Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year Everyone!!‏

Hello everyone!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that you have a wonderful New Year's celebration this week!  My first Christmas in the field was pretty fun, even if it didn't feel very much like Christmas due to the fact that is was insanely hot last week.  We spent most of Christmas trying to meet with people (it was a normal work day for us) and getting punted because everyone was out partying or had family over and didn't really want us to teach them.  We understood, but it was still kind of rough to spend Christmas walking around and getting punted.  However, we had a wonderful visit/lesson with the Sambo family.  They had invited us over to their house for Christmas dinner.  They had prepared a ton of food and even made us spaghetti and bought us some chicken from KFC just to make it feel a little more like an American Christmas. :)  So sweet!!! 
My cute sister Mikaela had given me a special gift for Christmas which was ang Aklat ni Mormon (Book of Mormon) that had her hand-written testimony in the front cover.  I had spent the last week carrying it around with me on our visits and waiting to feel prompted to give it to someone.  We were sitting there in the Sambo's home and I suddenly knew that they were the ones I needed to give it to.  At first I was hesitant since they are recent converts and I was really looking for an investigator to give it to, but as I started reading Mikaela's testimony to them (and bawling the entire time) I realized that it was the perfect gift I could give from my family at home to my family here in the Philippines.  It was a really sweet experience and something I will never forget.  As a side note, they gave me a Christmas card this last week that said that even though I was from a different culture, I'm still their child.  :)  I love them!!!!  Ah!  I'm going to bawl when I transfer and leave them...
Anyways, so yeah, Christmas was great besides getting punted and having everyone ask us if we were Jehovah's Witnesses because we were out working instead of celebrating Christmas... :) 
The last few days have been a little difficult work-wise as we continue to get punted because everyone's partying it up.  We figure things will be back to normal once the New Year's celebrations are over and everyone has to go back to school and work.  Our investigator Anjelica is still doing great and is on her way to being baptized the 25th of January!  We are so excited for her!!  We're once again in that process of dropping several of our investigators who aren't progressing and finding new ones which is always kind of frustrating, but I'm looking forward to finding more people who have been prepared to hear the gospel :) 
Being in a house full of people who are trying to learn how to speak Tagalog is actually extremely fun :)  We're all trying to help each other out and more than anything it's taught me how NOT to stress out about learning the language.  We're not fluent... not even close, but somehow the work moves on and the gospel continues to be preached to these people.  :)  I actually had a really cool experience the other day...  Sister Doucette and I went to go try to teach some of our recent converts who are now less-active.  It's been really frustrating, because we haven't been able to teach them since my first week last transfer, so almost two months now.  So were sitting there and talking to the mom and all of the sudden I'm remembering the last time I was there, and all the times I was there before that and how I had no clue what anyone was saying and I couldn't say anything and basically just felt mute.  As the sister was talking to us, I understood what she was saying and could have a normal, back-and-forth conversation with her, no problem... It was so awesome and so weird!!!!!  I hadn't realized how much I had grown in the language just over the last transfer with Sister Jones.  Yeah... we're talking drastic change!!!  Hallelujah!!  The gift of tongues is real!... It just requires a lot of patience, continued practice, and, surprisingly, not stressing out over learning the language.  :)
As a side note... Sister Doucette and I are having a fabulous time being companions with each other and right now we're just trying to work on not spending so much time talking to each other because we're, uh, having issues with time-management because we're always having these awesome conversations :)  Sister Strebel, the other new sister in our apartment is hilarious and I love her to death, and Sister Tereke is suddenly a lot more talkative (and sarcastic) then she was before. :)  They both are ridiculously funny and crack each other up, which cracks us up, and all-around we are just having a great time in our apartment :)
Well... that's all for this week!  Happy New Year again to everyone!!
Love you all tons!!
Love, Sister Dickison :)   

Monday, December 16, 2013

Transfer week again :)‏

Wow!  Happy Holidays everyone!  There is so much that's gone on in the last week...

First off, we got transfer announcements this morning.  Sister Jones has been called to be a Sister Training Leader (not surprised, she'll do great... but I'll miss her like crazy!), and I will be spending another transfer in the Pateros area.  My new companion is Sister Doucette, who I briefly met once at the Mission Office and seems like a sweetheart.  She went to the same school as my cousin Chase... crazy how people end up being connected here... I've run into two elders who went to Cedar High with me... but I had no clue who they were.  Their names are Elder Roy and Elder Robertson.  Anyways... I'm excited to have another transfer here, and that I don't have to leave my first ward right before the Christmas season!
Last Tuesday we had our Christmas conference.  It was so much fun!!  Every zone had to perform a skit and a musical number.  Our zone was pretty average in both areas, but some zones had obviously spent hours if not days working on their skits, I swear!!  It was super fun to watch everyone perform.  I walked up to the floor where the party was being held and almost bumped into Sister Alailima.  It was so great to see her!!!  I kinda screamed and I think I scared her.  :)  We talked quite a bit during the conference and she is doing very well.  :)  I also saw several other members of my MTC district there which was as great as always. :)  Not going to lie, the highlight of the Christmas conference was definitely watching a movie... that's right, a real movie, not just "The District" or "The Restoration".  :)  We watched "Arthur Christmas" which was a super cute animated movie and was fun because I've never seen it before.  Watching it kind of left us all on "movie-withdrawal" for the next few days, but we got over it.  :)
Sister Jones and I have continued to be blessed in our work!  We had to drop a few investigators for one reason or another, but have been so blessed to find really strong potential investigators over the last few weeks as well!  We've specifically been praying to find investigators around our age and families and have been blessed to find both!  I wouldn't be surprised if we have several baptisms coming up in the next few months.  :) 
I'm so excited for Christmas!!!  Not that will be doing much of anything really crazy fun, but still... it's Christmas, right?  AND I get to skype with my family!!!  AAHHHH!!  I'm so excited to get to talk with them face-to-face (well, sort of face-to-face).
Merry Christmas to you all!  Until next week!
Lots of love, Sister Dickison

Monday, December 9, 2013

Malapit na sa Christmas...!!‏

Hello everyone!!

So Sister Jones and I had another awesome week!  Last Tuesday was our Zone Conference which was super fun!  I'm sending a pic of Sister Jones, Sister Wilson, and myself.  Sister Wilson lived in the same building as me during my first transfer and I love her to pieces.  She was also Sister Jones' companion in the MTC. It was great to see so many friends from previous districts and zones, especially Elder Schenk from my MTC district who I haven't seen since my first week in the field.  All of the speakers were really good and then there was Sister Jones' and my musical number... actually it went pretty darn well.  I don't know what happened.  She always sings amazingly of course, but I must have had some serious help from the other side or something.  :)  However, I've informed her to never volunteer us to sing in public again while I'm hooked up to an I.V. and on drugs and not thinking very clearly so I somehow end up agreeing to sing.  :)  I received my Christmas package after the zone conference, hallelujah!!  Thanks Mom!!  The shoes were so needed and I can't wait to open up my present and the letters... hopefully I can wait until Christmas. ;)  
We had a tougher week in some ways.  Almost none of our investigators are keeping their commitments and almost all of the less actives who have been coming back into activity did not attend church this week.  However, we've been continually getting better at teaching and are really going to try to focus on extending good commitments this week.  We have an exciting week ahead of us with our Christmas conference tomorrow and then our ward Christmas party on Saturday!  Even though it's sunny and hot and there are no pine trees, Christmastime is still here.  :)  
We have really been trying to be healthy this transfer and things have finally clicked for me health-wise.  I think it's since we both realized that word of wisdom was given to us not just as a list of things that are "bawal" (not allowed) but it talks about the healthy foods we should eat and getting enough sleep and yeah... it's just the first time I've really wanted to take care of my body for the right reasons.  So... I'm sending a picture of our food after our big grocery trip last week as well as a pic of a lunch meal we made.  We've switched out our white rice for brown... so much healthier and tastes better too. :) 

I'm so grateful for my mission and I know this is where I'm supposed to be.  :)  AND... we get to skype in two weeks!!  Probably on Christmas.  I'm so excited!!  I really, really am hoping that Sister Jones and I get one more transfer together!!  Sister Suminguit will almost for sure be leaving our area/apartment and I'm having a hard time with that... she's been such a good friend and we've lived together for the last four months... Man, I'm going to miss her!
Well, that's about all for this week.  Hope you all have a wonderful week!
Love, Sister Dickison

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!‏

Well... Sister Jones and I may not have had a turkey to eat for Thanksgiving, but we did have a bounteous feast in terms of missionary work.  :)  We were able to find and teach a total of 22 investigators last week!  It was awesome.  11 of the less-active members we've been visiting attended church yesterday.  It was so great to see them there and a lot of them have attended several times in a row and are now back into "activity."  Probably the greatest blessing we received last week was to be able to feel the Spirit so strongly as we taught.  It helped us countless times to know what to teach including a few times where we had to change our plans last minute, whether or not to extend bap. invitations, where to go to find people, who to talk to, helped me a ton with the language, and overall just guided us in everything.  I'm so grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost!  It's such a powerful gift that anyone, if they are worthy, can receive and have with them always.

Besides feeling a little sad that we couldn't be with our families enjoying good food last week, we haven't had any major challenges this last week, Hallelujah!  The Mango Float I ate yesterday at some of our members' home makes up for missing out on Turkey and Mashed Potatoes. :)  This week we have Zone Conference tomorrow and Sister Jones and I will be singing a musical number for that... hopefully it goes well...  Health-wise I've felt back to normal, thank goodness.  I'm still keeping in eye out for anything weird though.  
I hope you have all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Have a great week!
Love, Sister Dickison

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So this one time at St. Luke's Hospital...‏

Hello everyone!
That's it.  I've just decided my mission is never going to stop being so exciting and I might as well just get used to it.  :)  So yeah... spent sometime at the hospital last week because I had a bad kidney infection (upper UTI).  That was not fun.  The hospital was nice, don't get me wrong... it had air-con, they fed me, I had my first hot shower in months (I promise you it wasn't my first shower in months...), the view from the window in my room was beautiful of the city, but wow... being in the "normal" world is really boring if you are a missionary... no t.v., no internet, nothing really to do but sleep, especially since I hadn't brought my scriptures or study materials with me since that was kind of the last thing on my mind when we were on our way to the E.R.  I'm on antibiotics now so I'm not planning on going back to the hospital any time soon.  Sister Jones and I were very happy to get back to work on Sunday.  I'm so, so grateful for my companion!  She is so patient and handled everything so well while I was sick.  We had a pretty good time there together at the hospital just talking and doing a little bit of language study (thankfully she had brought some of her study materials) and I think she sang almost every song in the hymnbook... yeah... we had a lot of time to kill. :)  
We've had an awesome week already!  We found and taught a total of 7 new investigators in the last two days.  The work in our area really is just booming, it's incredible!  By the end of the week with all of the appointments we have scheduled, we should have around 20 or so new investigators... yeah, it's awesome.  :)  
We were able to attend the temple again this morning.  I love going to the temple!!  Seriously!  It's the best place to be.  :)  I also ate at Starbuck's for the first time ever.... took me going to the Philippine's before I finally gave in and tried it.  It was great.  Actually... I've eaten a lot of things that I never, ever would have before... especially when it comes to seafood.  Most of it hasn't been too bad too... it's just that darn coconut that I absolutely can't like and unfortunately... it's in everything here!  Oh well...  I still haven't tried balut yet, but I'm sure I will within the next 13 months.  :)  
The language is really coming along soooo much faster now.  I've made a goal to read the whole Book of Mormon sa Tagalog.  I've heard that, more than anything else, helps the language to come.  
Sister Jones and I had an awesome lesson with Sister Puri on Monday.  We had finished teaching her all of the principles about the Restoration but she just didn't seem to be getting it.  We spent the whole lesson reviewing with her and really focusing on the Holy Ghost and Baptism.  Something we hear a lot from the people we teach here is that our church is basically the same as any other church.  When Sister Puri brought this up, we explained to her again how it's different, how ours is the only true church here on the earth because it is the only church that has a living prophet who receives revelation and has the authority of the priesthood.  We invited  her to be baptized.  She thought about it for a good long while and then said (actually, she kind of asked) "yes?" but told us she had already been baptized before in some other religion.  We had to explain to her that that baptism wasn't really "valid" because it wasn't done with the proper authority.  Wow.  A few months ago, I never would have had the courage to tell someone that.  It was tough... but the Holy Ghost was testifying something strong.  She told us she knows that what we are teaching her is true... Hopefully she prays about it to find out for herself.  That's really what she needs to do at this point.  
 Well... that's all for now.  Hope everyone has a great week and doesn't have to spend any time in the hospital!  Love you all!
Love, Sister Dickison

Monday, November 18, 2013

Give it up for Miss Adele and Miss Avril Lavigne!!

Wow!!  We have had such an awesome week! 

We've had to drop several people who either weren't interested, weren't progressing, or hid inside of their houses as soon as they saw us (that was pretty funny) but we are finding a lot of new potential investigators so the work is really going well.

Last Tuesday we headed out to try to visit a few people and then to do a lot of finding.  Our first appointment fell through, so we went to try to contact the second person.  On our way there, we passed by the house of someone we met over a month ago and briefly spoke to.  We've been trying to contact him for the last month but haven't been able to make contact with him until last Tuesday.  We ended up teaching him, James, as well as his friend, Romel, a whole lesson.  It was awesome!  Both seem really interested and James especially kept bringing stuff up that he already believes in that is part of the gospel. We haven't been able to teach them since then yet, but hopefully we'll be able to teach them again this week.  :)

After teaching them, we went to find some more people.  We were just walking and talking about something really random, when the lady who had been walking in front of us for awhile suddenly turned around and gave us the biggest smile.  "Are you Mormons?" she asked.  We both smiled and replied that we were.  She was all, "That's nice," and then turned around to walk away.  Obviously, we couldn't let her go so we started talking to her some more and discovered that she was taught by Elders over 30 years ago.  She invited us over to her house which is insanely nice by the way... it has air-con!!  We talked to her, Sister Puri, for quite awhile as well as her daughter Wendy, who is married and has two adorable little boys.  Wendy is a golden investigator!  She had so many really good, deep questions for us and is super interested in our church.  We can't wait to teach her again!  We had another really good lesson with Sister Puri last Friday and will be teaching her again this week as well.  :)  That whole day was just a testament to the two of us that if we go out and place our faith in God, He will help us find those people He has prepared for us to teach.  

So... funny story... on Friday Sister Jones and I were taking a short break (we're getting so tan from all of the sunlight we've been getting because we walk everywhere now) and eating some bananas in a small store on the side of the rode.  So we're talking to the owner and her co-worker and doing some "how to begin teaching" with them when all of the sudden I look over on the other side of the road and there is this obviously gay guy looking over at the two of us.  He gets the biggest grin on his face, holds up something in his hand, pops his foot and yells, "Promo!"  We both start giggling and then he comes over to us and begins to try to sell us laundry detergent.  :)  About five others join him, all "baklas," and they're trying so hard to speak in English, and doing really well I might add, and it was just super funny and you would've had to be there to understand.  They're in the middle of their spiel when they stop, and one of them looks at Sis. Jones and says, "You know... you look just like Miss Adele!"  We both start laughing and all of the other guys there are nodding there heads and then all of the sudden, this guy starts singing "Someone Like You" at the top of his lungs.  We were both dying of laughter and then awhile later they inform me that I look like Avril Lavigne... You can imagine my face at this point.  The whole experience was ridiculously funny and yeah... we totally bought the laundry detergent.  It was worth it for the entertainment.  :)

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!  Until next P-day!
Love, Sister Dickison

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Blessings that come from Enduring :)‏

Hello everyone!
First off, just wanted to let everyone know that despite of the huge Typhoon or here it's called a "Bagyo"  that hit the Philippines I am alive and well and nothing major happened here in the Pasig City area.  There was rain, but no more than usual, and wind, but it was nothing compared to Cedar City wind.  :)  However, I've heard that the destruction that occurred because of the typhoon was really, really bad and it's been a time of mourning for everyone here in the Pines.  I'm so grateful that we were safe in spite of the typhoon.
Secondly... I feel so incredibly blessed right now and so excited about this new transfer.  My new companion, Sister Jones, is amazing!  We get along so, so well and she is such a blessing in my life and already in the lives of those we've been teaching.  We had better numbers this week than any other week since I've come here, even though my previous companion and I had no appointments on Monday or Tuesday, and we were only able to have one appointment on Friday because of the Typhoon (our Mission President told us to all return to our apartments and be safe:)) and while we're both exhausted and a little sunburnt from all of the walking we've been doing, seeing eight of the less-active members we visited and three of our investigators attend church was worth it. :)  Most of the less-actives have really struggled with attending church for months.  Sister Jones and I really felt impressed to talk about temples and family history work in our visits with them this last week.  The Spirit could be felt so strongly in these visits and I was touched to see how our message touched the people we taught.  Quite a few of them cried... the first time that has happened in awhile.  :)  We taught them about how our ultimate goal should be to be able to live with our family forever, both our earthly family, and our heavenly family, and how we can only do that through the blessings of the temple.
I'm both speaking and understanding the language at a much faster pace than I was and yeah... everything's just wonderful.  :)  
I learned a lot during my first two transfers in the field, and while I have absolutely no desire to go back and relive them, they taught me a lot about having faith and trusting God with everything you've got.  I'm so excited for another week of awesome missionary work! :)  
Love you all lots!  Thank you for all of your love and support!  I feel so blessed to have so many people who are supporting me while I'm out here :)  You truly are all a blessing in my life. 
Have a fantastic week! 
Love, Sister Dickison

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Letter from mission APs

To the  families of our missionaries here in the Philippines Quezon City Mission: 

            Thank you for all of your prayers in regards to the Typhoon Yolanda. Thanks be to the Lord that our area was not majorly affected by the storm. The heaviest part of the storm hit the more southern part of the Philippines. We have only experienced light rain and winds.  All of our missionaries have been accounted for and are safe and sound and will be able to continue in the Work of Salvation without delay. Thank you for your loving support and letters to your missionaries and we ask that you continue to support them and inspire them to be the best missionaries they can be.

The Assistants of the Philippines Quezon City Mission
Elder Froude & Elder Pedrola


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Same area, new companion!

Hello everyone!  It's transfer week here and I am staying in this same area but will have a new companion in less than a day.  Her name is Sister Jones and even though I have never met her I've already been told that she is from Mesa, Arizona, super, super nice, super talented at both singing and playing the piano, can speak the language really well, and that I will love her.  Yeah... I'm pretty excited to meet her tomorrow.  :)
Phew... so this last week was pretty darn good.  The only bummer was with our investigators that we were planning to take with us to church.  We showed up at their house around 2:00 to pick them up like we had planned, but the grandmother told us their daughter had a headache so they couldn't go.... For the second week in a row.  So... time for the big lesson Sister Dickison learned this week... more about patience.  :)  I've always struggled with patience... I just want to be able to do everything fast; if there is a problem or mistake, to fix it asap and move on.  If I'm not learning as fast as I should, quickly fix whatever is wrong so that I can learn quicker.  Yeah... that doesn't really work.  Change takes time... learning and growing are life-long processes.  The important thing is that you are actively trying to learn and to grow and to change instead of just staying at a standstill.  The Filipino culture is sssoooooo much slower-paced than the culture I'm used to, and that's been really difficult to try to adjust to.  Trying to find the balance is the most difficult thing - not moving too fast or too slow. 
I guess in the end the most important thing is to continue to try to "do your best and than hang the rest," a common phrase at the Dickison house while I was growing up.  :)  
Okay... that's all for this week.  Thanks for everything guys!  I love you all tons!
Love, Sister Dickison

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oh you know... just a little food poisoning... :)‏

Haha!!  Yeah, just another week in the life of a missionary.  :)  Hahahaha!!  Seriously, this is getting pretty ridiculous!  Yeah... so had food poisoning last Saturday, I think... or maybe not.  I'm not really sure what happened but it was short, intense, and way too much excitement for my taste.  We were at an investigator's house, about to start the lesson when BAM!!  Crippling pain in the lower, left side of my back. I tried stretching it but it kept getting worse and worse.  Finally it got too painful to keep quiet about so I told Sis Q there was something wrong with me and then I felt like I was going to pass out and my hands got all tingly.  Everyone was super concerned.  I was like crying without tears because it was so bad.  I went into their C.R. (stands for "comfort room" and is the Filipino term for the "bathroom" although I was not comforted at all while I was in there....:)) and tried going to the bathroom but couldn't.  Came back out, laid down crying for a while, and then quickly went back into the bathroom and threw up.  After that, my body was sore but I felt better.  While all of this was going on, Sister Q was trying to figure out if we should go to the hospital and called our Mission Pres. wife who told her to text her instead.  So. We texted her. She called me and told me that what I was going through was "normal" for foreign missionaries and to take some medicine and eat more fruits and veggies.  (???)  

If that ever happens again I promise I will go to the hospital.  It's one of those things where I'm still trying to figure out what really happened, but yeah.  I can't say anything more about that.

I was able to receive a priesthood blessing from my district leader, Elder Crosby, and his companion, my MTC district brother, Elder Anderson.  The priesthood blessing was beautiful and much needed.   

On another happy note, since resolving the issue of not leaving our apartment on time, my companion and I were able to make almost twice as many visits as we have in the previous weeks.  Hurray!!!!  We are still struggling to meet with our potential investigators and most of the ones we have been able to continue to visit have ended up not really being that interested but hey, that's just part of missionary work.  :)  Some of our less-active families that we've been teaching have been going through some really tough challenges and it's been sad to watch them struggle, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to help them at this time.  I'm finishing my time as a trainee this week (hurray!!!!) and I actually got a little teary as we reviewed the chapter in Preach My Gospel about our purpose, and calling as missionaries.  :) 

I had an interesting time yesterday trying to teach a lesson to some of our less-active members sa English because the husband is American and doesn't speak Tagalog at all.  Haha!!  I kept on saying Tagalog words instead of English and found that while it's still frustrating to not be able to just say anything I want sa Tagalog, it does teach you how to keep things short, simple, and to the point instead of trying to cover too much material when you are teaching.  :) 

Well, that about sums it all up.  Thanks for your continued love and support!  May God bless and strengthen all of you!  Sorry for not always writing people back right away after they send me letters... I'm still trying to figure out how to manage my time wisely while emailing.  :)  Just know that I always read them and they mean a lot to me!  
Love you all!
Sister Jessica Dickison  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Growing... and then growing some more :)‏

Hey everyone!
Wow... this week has been an emotional roller coaster and honestly I'm pretty glad it (and especially the last few days) are over.  There has been a ton of personal growth going on and so many, many lessons learned, but man.... that was painful.  :P  It's been really interesting finding myself as a psychology major in a country where nobody really understands what that term means and most people assume that means I can read their minds.  :)  How frustrating it's been to realize just how very little I know about the culture and the people here and to try to accept it rather than change it.  I've never felt so Type A, high-maintenance, emotional, stressed, and overall crazy before in my life! 
Phew!  What an interesting, challenging, and amazing opportunity this whole-mission-in-a-foreign-country-thing is.  :)  Two really important lessons I've learned are 1)  God truly is mindful of His children and will give us the help we need, the tricky part is learning to recognize and accept that help when it is different than the help we wanted/thought we needed and 2)  I can't read people's minds.  :)  Truly this second lesson has been a hard thing for me to accept.  I've realized that I'm here serving the Lord in a different country, where they speak a different language and have a different culture and I really can't figure out how to speak to them both literally sa Tagalog and emotionally/spiritually by myself.  The Holy Ghost is essential for carrying out the Lord's work in all aspects.  So even though it's still important to do our part, in the end it's more important to make sure we have the Spirit with us and don't let pride get in the way of being able to recognize and then act on those promptings we receive.  :)  I'm so grateful for the tender mercies the Lord has given me despite all of my weaknesses.  :)

Right now our area is in an interesting stage where we are finding new potential investigators regularly now (hurray, it's about time) and are trying to climb what feels like a very steep hill of helping them to become progressing investigators.  It's been difficult.  Most of the people we've taught love religion and talking about God and faith and all of that good stuff, but they're also very comfortable with the religion they've grown up with and they're not very interested in anything different.  I'm praying really hard right now that God will help us find people who are willing to open their hearts to His gospel and that Sister Quinco and I will be able to do our part in inviting them to not just come closer to Christ but to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and receive the blessings that come from it.  
Thanks for everyone's love and support!  May God bless all of you and have an awesome week!
Til next week!
Sister Dickison 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

New Investigators!!

Yup... you read that right!  We actually have new investigators... 5 of them!  Okay, so right now they're technically still only potential investigators, but we taught an actual lesson to all of them and have return appointments with all of them so yeah... I'm pretty darn excited!  The first two are Alex and Nora.  I met them while working with Sister Wilson about a month ago when Sister Quinco was sick.  Sister Wilson OYM'd (open your mouth) to them and we got their contact info, background, and left.  Sister Quinco and I tried to visit them a few weeks ago, but ended up talking to Carina, another one of our new investigators, instead, who lives a few feet away from them and told us that they were sleeping.  You don't mess with people's nap time here, so we got Carina's info, got to know her a bit better and left.  So last Tuesday, we knocked (actually you don't knock here. instead you yell, "Tao po!" which means, "People!")  on Alex and Nora's door.  Nora answered it and was obviously surprised to see us.  She surprised me by letting us in right away.  She was there, alone, with her four-yr-old daughter, Mary.  She and Alex have three other children, all boys older than Mary.  They're all catholic and pretty religious.  A lot of the Catholic people we've met here don't know very much about their religion, or religion, period, but Alex and Nora do. Alex showed up about half-way through our visit and joined us.  We talked to them about faith and eternal families and Nora soaked in everything we said like a sponge.  Several times throughout the appointment she told us how grateful she was to us for visiting her.  She said that they've had other people of other faiths come and visit them, but we're the first she's let come into their house and she didn't know why.  She said maybe it was just because she wasn't expecting us.  We just smiled.  :)  We told her we knew it wasn't by accident that we were there and shared more about our message.  At the end, we invited her to pray, briefly teaching her how to do so.  She gave a beautiful prayer and I felt the Spirit so, so strongly.  I know everyone else did too, because after she was finished we all just kept kneeling there and then Sister Quinco and I both broke into choruses of "Wow!  Maganda! (Beautiful!)."  Sister Quinco asked her how she felt.  It was funny, she looked really happy, but confused as to why she was so happy.  She told us that she felt really peaceful and happy, and went on to thank us some more for visiting her.  It was awesome!  I'll briefly talk about one of the other investigators we met, Mary Ann.  We were visiting Meriam, one of our less-active members, when her neighbor, Mary Ann saw us and then showed up at Meriam's door as we were about to begin the lesson.  After getting to know her a little bit, we invited her to join us and so she sat outside of the door of the house (Meriam's house is literally the same size, if not smaller, than my bathroom back home) and we taught her.  It was wonderful because Meriam was able to be part of the lesson as a friend and a member instead of the less-active that we are desperately trying to invite to come back to church.  Mary Ann was really interested about eternal families just like Nora had been.  Mary Ann has four kids, I think.  The youngest is less than a year old and super cute!  Mary Ann is also Catholic, but doesn't know very much about religion at all.  As we were teaching, she kept on reading one of the pamphlet's we gave her and then kept reading it.... and reading it.... and yeah, was super interested overall.  We have another appointment with her in a few days.  I'm super excited to visit our new investigators this week.  Really, we've only had one potential investigator since I came here and she ended up not really being interested, so while I enjoy visiting less-active and recent convert members, I'm really excited to get to teach new investigators!  I know a lot of prayers were given that Sister Quinco and I might be able to find investigators.  Thank you!  I feel so blessed that we were able to find them and I'm hopeful that they will all continue to want to let us share our message with them.  :)

One of our zone goals for this transfer is to try to do more service projects.  Our district is supposed to have one once a week but this was the first week we actually had one.  We actually did two, one in the Elders' area and then one in Sister Suminguit's and Sister Tereke's area.  For the one in Elder Malmrose and Elder Holden's area, we helped a rich, non-member clean the backyard of one of her houses.  The house has been a work-in-progress for like, almost ten years now and is the nicest house I've seen since I've been here.  For the other service project we cleaned the backyard of one of the Sister's in our ward.  Both service activities were really fun.  I miss doing work like that and I miss guys, really.  Being with girls 24/7 is fun most of the time, but yeah... I miss my brothers and my dad and my mtc elders and just guys in general.  Sister Tereke found this huge spider on an old ironing board.  She calmly pointed it out to me to which I responded, "Ew. Gross."  We then showed Elder Malmrose and Elder Anderson who both freaked out and started screaming (I was just glad they didn't swear... Elder Malmrose sounded like he was going to)  and they both ran inside the house, still freaking out.  The rest of us were dying of laughter... so much for them being tough men.  The spider then jumped off of the board and scurried off into more of the trash.  The elders screamed again, afraid it was going to come after them I guess.  They spent the rest of our time there working on the opposite side of the yard, jumping at anything that moved, and telling us that if we saw it, we needed to tell them so they could get a picture of it to send to their girlfriends... If only their girlfriends knew how they reacted when they saw it... :)  
Anyways... so overall this week was awesome, talaga.  I miss everyone and I've especially missed watching general conference with my family at home, but I'm really excited to get to watch it here with our ward next weekend.  
Hope everyone has an awesome week!  You're all in my prayers always!
Love, Sister Dickison

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Welcome to a new transfer!

Hello everyone!!

Sorry about not sending out an email last week... I'll admit I spent all of my allotted email time emailing back and forth with my family again.  :)
So we had our Mission Tour with our Area President, President Ardern, and his wife as well as with our mission president, President Revillo and his wife. While all of their talks were great as well as the food, I kind of left the tour feeling homesick again after seeing most of my MTC district brothers and sisters.  The following days were/week was tough emotionally, and then physically as I came down with a fever, and then mentally and emotionally again as I started panicking about learning to speak Tagalog again....
A few days ago, Sister Quinco and I showed a video in one of our less-active member visits.  In it President Utchdorf talked about being at boot-camp and continually having to run, and run, and run.  He said that it became increasingly frustrating as he watched people who smoked and didn't follow the word of wisdom pass him while running time and time again.  He wondered where God's promised blessings were, because he knew that by following the word of wisdom he should be able to run and not be weary.  He said he learned a valuable lesson from this... be patient and endure to the end.  This video really touched both of the members we were teaching but I think it had the biggest impact on me.  It's been hard, feeling like I'm trying my best to be obedient and to learn the language and not having it come as quick as I want it to.  
Last Wednesday, Sister Suminguit had to say good-bye to her trainer, Sister I'loa, and hello to her trainee, Sister Tereke.  Sister Tereke is from Kirabati and fresh from the Provo MTC.  She know about as much Tagalog as I did when I arrived here six weeks ago and has a difficult time speaking English as well.  This has been a wake-up call for me, not only to realize how blessed I am to be able to communicate through English with so many people here, but also to notice how far I really have come.  While at times it's felt like my speaking skills have remained stagnant since I got here, I can understand what people are saying now and that feels like a huge step in the right direction.  I feel like I spent the first transfer trying to figure out what the heck was going on with everything around me - particularly what people were saying, everything about the culture, where everything is, and what being a missionary is really like.  It's been tough... every time somebody asks me how the language is coming I honestly want to cry, but I feel like now that I've got a better understanding of all the things I listed before, it's time to buckle down and learn how to speak this language!

My companion is helping me with my language study!  Already, just in the last few days she's been helping me, I've been learning so much better than I was before.
Sister Quinco and I have still had a really difficult time finding investigators.  We have a goal to go "finding" every day this week so next week I will let you now how it went and who we "found."  :)  Anyways... so my message from this week is to continue to endure to the end as well as enjoy to the end.  I was reminded by a good friend (*cough* Sister Umstead) of how important it is to enjoy as well as endure.  I admitted to her that I panicked a lot last week (okay, my red face and I'm guessing overall stressed-out look gave me away before I could admit anything), feeling like I needed to play "catch-up" with my language skills.  She gently reminded me that I can't play "catch-up" and that I need to be diligent but not freaking myself out. God sent us to earth for a lot of reasons, a big one being that we might have joy.  So just remember to endure and enjoy.  :)
Love you all!  Have a wonderful week!
Love, Sister Dickison

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mission tour week :)

Hey everyone! 

So next week is transfer week...  It really is crazy how fast time flies by when you're on a mission.  Every day I feel a little bit/a lot more comfortable being here and the language get's a little bit better.  The gift of tongues is super cool!  Somehow I went from not knowing what anyone was saying when I first got here, to being able to follow most conversations especially during our teaching appointments and church.  While I still can't say much off of the top of my head, it's slowly getting easier.  I was promised that the language would come as I continued to open my mouth and speak, so that's what I'm doing... even though I know most (if not all) of what I'm saying doesn't make any sense, I figure it's better to try than to not.  :)

This last week Sister Quinco and Sisters I'loa and Suminguit were all sick for a few days so I was able to do a lot of extra language study while they slept and recovered.  I also was able to go on splits with Sister Wilson, an American sister who lives in the same apartment complex as us.  It was so much fun to work with her!  I've really enjoyed being able to work with three different sisters during this transfer, just to see their different teaching styles.
Unfortunately, because Sister Quinco was sick we didn't get to do very much actual missionary work, again, which was frustrating.  What appointments we did have though went well.  We met a couple named the Garcia's on Saturday.  Sister Garcia is a less-active member and hasn't been to church since I entered the field.  Brother Garcia is Catholic, and super loud and funny.  Their son, who was also a Mormon, passed away last December from cancer and it's been very difficult for them.  So after getting to know them a little bit better, Sister Quinco told me to take the lead in the lesson.  Our teaching over the last little over a month has been an interesting mix of me just starting out only speaking sa Tagalog, and then switching to participating a lot more but almost all sa English because that's what the Sister Training Leader I worked with recommended, and after talking with Sister Wilson the other day, I'm now back to not particating as much but trying to do it all sa Tagalog.  So I found myself there, in charge of the lesson, with no clue of what I should really say (which is how it's been for the past few weeks, however I was speaking mostly english then), and so I just began with lesson 1, the restoration of the gospel, and rehearsed everything I've been learning during my extra language study time.  It went okay, however I couldn't figure out how to really make it applicable to them using my limited Tagalog vocabulary, that's when I finished saying all I could and then Sister Quinco started speaking and was able to connect it to them, and their current challenges and it was really neat to see how touched Brother Garcia was.  He started crying which shocked me, because he seems like a pretty tough man and all, and when we asked if we could visit them again this week, he enthusiastically said yes.  It was an awesome experience, even if it was embarassing because I'm still such an inexperienced teacher.  I'm grateful for the fact that I have such an experienced trainer.  She has taught me a lot about how to teach and she really tries to apply whatever it is we're teaching to our investigators needs.  
The Filipino people crack me up all the time!  You really have to be thick-skinned if you live here because they have no clue what the word "tact" means.  They aren't afraid to tell you that you've gotten prettier/uglier, skinnier/fatter, that you need to trim your eyebrows (true story, although one I was not part of... phew...), and so on and so forth.  I've also been informed by one of the members of our ward that I look like Mona Lisa, but with eyebrows.  I really did not know what to say to that.  :)  Also, all white people look the same to them.  When I worked with Sister Wilson we had two or three different people tell us we looked exactly the same.  Since Sister Wilson is half-Japanese it was pretty ridiculous but funny.  They also say stuff over the pulpit that is hilarious!  Two days ago, at the general adult meeting for stake conference, The Stake President stood up and talked about how if you serve a mission you will be blessed to have a really attractive wife (this is a "fact" that is frequently brought up here) and then proceeded to give us an example by having a sister in the congregation stand up, followed by her beautiful daughter, and then asked if the father who he deemed "ugly" to stand up.  "See?"  he said.  "Even if your as ugly as brother so-and-so, if you serve a mission, you can have a beautiful wife and daughter." And then everyone in the congregation, including Brother So-and-so busted up laughing.  Hahahaha!!!  It was such a strange experience and things like that happen here all of the time!  No wonder people here leave the church so frequently because someone offended them!  I'm still trying to get used to this bluntness... it's pretty funny.  :)
Anyways...  Hope everyone has an awesome week!  We have mission tour on Wednesday where I will probably get to see a lot of my mtc district elders again.  Super stoked! 
Until next week!
Love, Sister Dickison

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Philippines!!!

Hello po and Merry Christmas to everyone!!
Really though, Christmas season is now in full-swing here in the Philippines and will continue to be that way for the next several months.  We have started singing Christmas songs in church, Christmas decorations are going up, (I used to be appalled by Wal-Mart putting decorations up right after Halloween... yeah... Christmas decorations were up at the grocery store when I got here in August:)) and Christmas music is currently playing here at the Internet shop.  So crazy, ya got to love it.  :)

I'm happy to report that I have had a very uneventful week compared to the first few weeks of being here. Monday we had a combined zone activity with the Taguig zone which was super fun!  We hung out at our chapel and played volleyball, basketball, ate food, and played some kind of steal-the-flag game which I'm honestly still trying to figure out how you play it.  It was great to get to know some of the other Elders and Sisters better.  
Sister Quinco and I went on splits with the Sister Training Leaders on Wednesday.  It was a great experience and I learned a lot from the sister I worked with.  Funny story... so here, it's polite to take your shoes off before you enter people's houses, right?  So the STL, Sister Suarez, and I took our shoes off, like normal, and when we opened the door to leave, I found that part of my shoes were missing.  Apparently the member's dogs found my crocs super tasty... :)
Friday we spent most of the day waiting for the Martinez children to have their baptismal interviews.  Elder Balolong, our district leader, really likes to give, uh, thorough interviews but it was okay because it gave us a chance to visit with Elder Anderson from my MTC district who is Elder Balolong's new trainee since his last one went home from homesickness.  
On Saturday I got to enjoy watching Frencess, Frenscharls l, and Frenscharls ll Martinez be baptized. Wow!  It was awesome!  It was especially great because their dad, who is a less-active, came both to their baptisms and to church the next Sunday where they were confirmed. He was really emotional throughout both of these things.  Sister Quinco and I hope that as we continue to teach our newest recent converts, that he will join us more often in our lessons and that his children's decisions will continue to have a good influence on him. 
Saturday evening Sister Quinco and I were extremely fortunate to have dinner with some friends of my aunt and uncle who are living here in Metro Manila.  I can't begin to describe how wonderful it was to eat delicious, very-American food (not rice!) :)  We are so grateful for the Hill's generosity in letting us come over, visit, eat wonderful food, and share a spiritual message with them.  
Sunday during ward council we again really tried to emphasize to our ward the importance of the members in missionary work.  Our ward is really struggling in this area and we're finding it's difficult to serve our callings as missionaries when we have no investigators to teach.  As blessed as we feel to have had six baptisms in the last few weeks, as well as having the other sisters who we live and serve with have three baptisms, we now have a lot of time to be filled with finding new people to teach.  We pray that we will be able to find people and that our ward members, especially the newly called ward missionaries, will aid us in the missionary work. 
This morning we woke up at 4:00 in the morning to attend the temple session.  It was a much needed spiritual experience and I feel so blessed to have the temple in our mission boundaries!  The endowment session was beautiful and I really, really, really enjoyed the new video.  
Thank you for your continued love and support!  Hope you have a wonderful week!
God bless you!
Sister Dickison 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My address:

Sister Jessica Dickison
Philippines Quezon City Mission
Aurora Blvd. corner J.P. Rizal Street
Project 4, Cubao, Quezon City 1109
Metro Manila, Philippines


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Only in the Philippines...:)

Hello po! 

First off, thank you so, so, so much for the fasting and prayers and love and support.  The letters over the past few weeks from Carol, Brother Langer, Mattie, Makayla, Sister Dangerfield, Aunt Michelle, my MTC sisters, and especially of course every single one of my family members have truly been a blessing and gotten me through these challenging times.  If things were difficult last week, they were even more so this week, but I was able to conquer them a lot better and honestly, if it weren't for the fasting and prayers I could very easily be home right now just because of how incredibly tough it's been. 

So, here were go...
On Monday I was feeling a lot better after being able to email with each of my family members as well as Sister Koloi and receiving a letter from Sister Alailima while I was online.  I was able to visit more with the other two sisters in our apartment and we've become really good friends.  That night we went over to a family in our ward and enjoyed a fun FHE with them which included playing "Big Booty."  So funny!

Tuesday I woke up to find that someone had broken into our apartment during the night and had stolen all of my money despite the fact that it had been hidden in three different places as well as my camera.  Thank goodness I emailed most of my pictures home!  I'm not too frustrated about loosing the stuff, it's just stuff and I'm just so grateful we're all alive and okay.  Our Mission President and his wife have been on top of everything and habr been taking care of us, making sure we will be safe.

Over the next few days we didn't get to do a whole lot of teaching or normal missionary work because we were charged with the task of finding a new apartment.  We found one that hopefully will be approved and we will hopefully get to move sometime in the next few weeks or maybe next transfer. 

I've enjoyed getting to know the people here better, especially the members of our ward.  The people here amaze me!  Everyone was always telling me that the Filipino people literally have like nothing, yet they are happy and always smiling.  It's one thing to hear it, and another thing to see it.  Wow.  They are incredible.  So many crazy things happen here, things that would put most Americans in a coma for the rest of their lives from the stress, but the people here just brush it off and continue smiling and joking.  What an example they've been to me, of making the most of what you have and focusing on what matters most! 

The Martinez children will hopefully be baptized this Saturday and I'm so, so happy for them!  Their family needs the gospel so much right now.  Sis. Martinez's mom is currently in the hospital and may not live.  Sis. Martinez obviously wants to visit her but they don't have enough money for her to make the journey.  It's so sad!!  With every person we teach here, they have equally difficult challenges going on in their lives.  I wish I could better communicate to them the sympathy I feel for them and their situations.  Right now although I may not be able to teach them very much about our lessons, I'm just hoping I can show them how much I care.

Well... at times this last week it's felt like, "Ok, two months down and only 16 more to go..." but I've realized that really, that means only 16 more months until I'll have to return to the "real world" and end this incredible journey of developing in ways that I didn't even know existed.  With as crazy as everything has been for me on the external side of things - stuff that's been out of my control such as the floods and the being sick and the break-in and yeah... a lot of other stuff too - I've found that it's been what's been happening inside of my head and my heart that has brought the most growth and been the most challenging.  I want to briefly (or not so briefly) share a few things I've learned during the last three weeks. 

"How to move forward with faith and not fear."  Sounds so simple, but really that concept can feel impossible, right?  There are two talks that I've really enjoyed as I've tried to learn this.  One is the one my Dad sent me, and I think I mentioned in my last letter.  I feel so blessed to have had the wisdom of someone so close to me to rely on, having been through it all before himself.  Thanks Dad.  Anyways... I don't remember the author's name, but it's entitled "A Time for Faith, Not Fear."  Everything in that article has helped me so much and I've caught the other sisters in my apartment picking it up off of my desk and reading it too.  :)

The other article is in the August issue of "The Liahona" by Elder Brent H. Nielson, a member of the area presidency for the Philippines.  It's entitled, "Move Forward with Faith."  I know I read it in the Ensign some time ago a home, and I was surprised to find it again in the Liahona for last month.  Anyways, in this article Elder Nielsen discusses finding ourselves stuck on diff. "roundabouts" in life and having a hard time moving forward in faith.  This concept struck home both the first time I read it and again during this last week.  I feel like it perfectly describes my life in a nutshell, from finding myself stuck on the roundabout of forgetfulness as a teenager and then during the last two years stuck on a combination of the roundabouts of dating, choosing a career, and deciding to serve a mission.  I've always envied how much more clear the path seems to be for guys - mission, marriage, education, and then career.  I've spent the last two years overwhelmed with all four of these huge decisions when I really shouldn't have been.  I knew what I wanted - I wanted to date and get married ASAP, get my degree, and then spend the rest of my life getting to do what I want most - to be a stay-at-home-mom.  I was reading some of the entries from my journal the other night from about a year ago.  Wow.  I was so lost.  I felt so stuck on a roundabout of going to school and dating not going the way I wanted it to and really not doing anything else besides going to class, work, and then watching Netflix.  As most of you know, I finally asked God what His plan for me was, received my answer, I found myself here, in the Philippines, feeling like over the last two months I've finally exited that roundabout and now I'm driving down some crazy road with bumps, twists, and sometimes even u-turns in it at 100 mph.

During this last week as I was having some really pathetic pity-parties for myself, I forced myself to reflect on the last two months.  I realized that while, at times, I've honestly felt like I've been living in heck, I would not change anything.  If I had not made this decision I would still be at home waiting for my life to begin.  This journey has felt very unsafe, not so much because of the flood and break-in, but more because of the changes I'm going through mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually.  My wise sister, Mikaela, advised me to not be afraid of change the evening before I left.  She, knowing me better than anyone else, knew that this would be and I'm sure will continue to be the most difficult challenge for me.

I don't understand this concept of faith perfectly yet.  In fact, I'm pretty sure this is just the beginning of a life-long lesson, but I know that having faith is the ultimate thing to get us through life.  That's why it's the first principle of the gospel.  Without faith, nothing else can work.  Only when we learn to trust that God's plan for us is better than our own are we able to get out of our roundabouts and really progress. 

So while I'm here struggling to learn basic things such as how to love my companion, open my mouth and speak, have faith instead of fear, be patient, be humble, rely on God's strength instead of my own, and that it's okay to not always be a "fast-learner", at least I'm not at home watching three seasons of Glee in less than two weeks (yes, I'm ashamed to say that really did happen.):)

So if any of you are struggling to get out of roundabouts and feeling like all of your plans are falling apart, I would encourage you to turn to our Father in Heaven for answers and the faith and courage to follow His plan for you.  It Will Not Be Easy, but it will be worth it.  And when you feel like you're drowning, pray.  And if you still feel like you're drowning, pray longer and harder.  And keep telling yourself "I can do hard things."  Eventually you will start to believe it.  :)  Also remember what President Hinckley's dad told him, about forgetting yourself and getting to work.  It's a true concept.

Yeah... Phew sorry.... that ended up being really long.  I hope everyone has an awesome week!  Hopefully mine will be less eventful :) 
Til next week!
Love, Sister Dickison

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rough week

Thank you for your prayers!  I seriously need them right now!!!!  This week has without a doubt been the hardest week of my life and I'm trying really hard to keep myself together.

We woke up Tuesday morning to some of the streets flooded up to my knees or thighs.  Fortunately we were very safe in our second floor, elevated apartment.  But I know of others who were flooded and even had to evacuate.   :( 

Thursday was, to be quite honest, a really, really terrible day.  I woke up to having stomach issues... hurray... but they weren't as bad as they could have been.  Fortunately our toilet got fixed and I was kind of expecting it after all of the really weird food I've been eating.  I took the medicine Mom gave me and by the next day I was just fine.  But we didn't go out and work very much that day and so I had to spend way too much time alone with my thoughts in my bed as I tried to sleep.  I don't think I've ever prayed so long and so hard for help before.  Emotionally I'm really, really struggling.  I feel like all of the language I learned at the MTC is gone.  So I'm trying to learn a language pretty much all by myself in the little time I have.  

However, I've also had the highest highs this week.  On Saturday we took three of our investigators to the temple for a temple tour.  It was amazing!  It was great to be there with them and to see so many, many other missionaries.  It was especially great because I got to see Elder Phelps, Elder Schenk, Elder Anderson, and Sister Koloi and Sister Alailima there.  We're talking pure joy on all of our faces when we saw each other!!!  I miss them all so much!  We are all feeling lonely and very American.

I have learned that the Philippines IS a third world country and that talking about a third world country and living in a third world country are two very different things.

I’m beginning to understand now how difficult Dad’s first few weeks and months in Chile must have been.  I'm now living it, and, again, it's one thing to talk about it and another thing to experience it.  I really enjoyed reading the article he sent me at the MTC.  I pulled it out this week and was greatly comforted by its words about having faith instead of fear.  It's been weird because even though I know I'm not alone and that I have everyone at home cheering me on and my district here experiencing the same thing and most importantly the companionship of the Holy Ghost and our Savior and God, I still feel so incredibly lonely.  I never understood the culture barriers that would come from being the only American in my apartment.  I'm trying to teach myself a new language and a new culture and a new way of living and you know, the other normal missionary stuff, and it's all so overwhelming!  I’m trying to be patient with myself and with learning the language, but it is really difficult when others bust up laughing at you when you are trying so hard to speak a new language.

Thank you Dad for all of the advice and wisdom you have given me.  My testimony is growing in leaps and bounds it feels with every second that I'm here because if I don't turn to the Lord and rely on Him not just partially, but completely, I'm never going to get through this.  I'm being humbled in so many, many ways that I hadn't expected and while it's been insanely difficult I'm grateful for every day and for every difficult thing I'm going through.  You know I've always valued self-reliance and I'm quickly learning that it's more important to give your all to God.  I thought I understood that before I came here, but I'm still learning what it means to trust Him completely and not hold anything back.

I better understand now why  the members of our whole zone at the MTC had similar personality traits.  I definitely takes a certain personality to survive not just the external culture here but the social culture as well.  Still... I can't do any of this on my own, right now I feel like I can't do anything on my own.  I have to have God's help and control just to get out of bed every single morning.

With all that being said, back to the happy stuff.... :)  Sister Sambo, Brother Sambo, and their daughter C.J. were baptized on Saturday and confirmed members of our church yesterday.  It was so, so, so wonderful and they've become very dear friends of mine.  I'm so happy for them and for the joy they are in my life right now.  I also was so grateful to do the temple tour with the Martinez children.  They are so sweet and I'm so excited for them to be baptized.  

Thank you for praying for me!  And thanks to everyone for emailing to me.  I wasn't homesick in the MTC but man... I've sure been struggling here.  I had a nightmare a few nights ago that was particularly scary, about dogs trying to attack our home again... It was terrible when I woke up, not only because of you know, the nightmare, but because it was the first time I've dreamt about our home and it and all of you were so very real in my dream and I was so hungry for all of it... gosh... now I'm crying again...

Since Thursday I've been feeling a lot better though it may be hard to tell and my faith has grown stronger.  :)  Yesterday while the other sisters were sleeping and I was desperately trying to do some language study I noticed how much easier the stuff I was studying came for me than it did at the MTC.  I know I'm being blessed and strengthened with everything here.  I just have to keep reminding myself of my progress.  It's been tough, but my relationship with my Father in Heaven has kept me going :)  

Well, looks like we are leaving.  Until next week.
Love, Sister Dickison

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hello from some internet shop in Quezon City!‏

Hello everyone!  
Wow... this week has been insane, but don't worry, I'll wake up soon and still be in the MTC... at least, that's what I keep telling myself.  :)  Ha... I waiting so long to get out of there and now all I want is to wake up in our residence and have a full day of MTC-life to look forward to.  Instead I wake up to the sound of airplanes, three or four or twenty-two roosters cockle-doodle-dooing, sometimes people cheering at some type of rooster-fighting competition, lots of rain, and the sound of tricycles driving by on the street.  Good thing I really like sound when I sleep, right?  :)
So I'm here, on my mission, and I have absolutely no clue what anyone is saying except for when they ask my companion, Sister Quinco, if I speak any Tagalog, to which I respond that I speak a little, and then prove them wrong by remaining silent for basically the rest of the conversation.  It's great.  :)  
Everything I've eaten here tastes great, no lie!  All the meat does indeed taste like chicken and for a recovering vegetarian I'm doing pretty darn well.  It's smelly, and dirty, and rainy, and everybody drives like they're drunk, but somehow it's beautiful here.  The people here have nothing, but they are very nice and still happy.  I'm still trying to get used to the staring.  Everywhere I go you can hear "Amerikano" or "foreigner" or my personal favorite from a boy who I swear had to be ten years old "Hey Doll," except it was sa Tagalog.  So strange.  
I'm experiencing severe culture shock.  The worst was on my second day when we went to the grocery store.  I had no clue what anything was or how the money worked and desperately tried to find brands I recognized such as "Dole" and "Tresemme".  It was a disaster!  Seriously.... I think the only thing that kept me here those first two days was getting to ride tricycles. :) (tricycles in the Pines are motorcycles with a modified side cart)
With all that being said, the real reason I'm still here is because I know I'm supposed to be here.  That was the reason I left on my mission in the first place and I'm still hanging on to that confirmation that I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  Our Heavenly Father loves the people here.  I can feel it so strongly.  Since I can't understand anything anyone is saying for the most part, I've really been trying to focus on what I can feel as we teach our investigators and less-active members.  I can feel the love God has for His children we teach.  It's overwhelming sometimes, such as when we teach Brother and Sister Sambo, who, along with their eight-year-old daughter C.J., will be baptized this Saturday.  :)  God loves them so, so much.  It kind of leaves me with no choice but to love them too. 
I really enjoyed getting to attend church yesterday.  The members in the ward were so friendly and kind.  Our whole sacrament meeting was focused on missionary work.  We're really trying to emphasize the importance of the role of members in finding people for us to teach.  I didn't know this before, but in PMG in talks about how members are supposed to find and missionaries are supposed to teach.  It makes sense now that I think about it, because that way the investigators already have a built-in support system.  
Saying good-bye to my MTC district was super tough.  Luckily, Sister Umstead is in my district and Elder Anderson is in my zone so I will see both of them tomorrow at our district meeting, where, for some reason, we meet as a zone.  :)  I've been worried about them all week ( yeah, sometimes you just can't let go of things like being the older sister to your siblings:)) but that's okay, because worrying about how they're doing has helped me to not focus so much on worrying about myself.  Elder Martin was assigned to the Mindoro area, which here is known as "The Promised Land" or "The Rock."  Apparently we're all supposed to be jealous, but before he left he told me that he could only take like 50 lbs. of luggage on the plane and so I wasn't really that jealous.  :)  I am currently serving in the Pasig Zone which is, from what I've heard, the least desired area in our mission.  At least I have everywhere else to look forward to serving in, right? 
We do have an actual shower that works.  The water is cold so thank goodness for the experiences I had taking cold showers after swim team practice.  Sorry Frank... You'll have to wait to write me odes about "Norman." ;)  Our toilet on the other hand is currently broken... Hurray.
Sorry... nobody here understands my sarcasm so I may be going overboard in this email...
My kasama, Sister Quinco, and I get along really well.  She's very patient with me.  She's a Filipina.  Cebuano is her native language followed by English and then Tagalog, so thankfully we can communicate with each other.  She's been letting me teach bits and pieces of our lessons which I appreciate, otherwise I'm never going to learn this language.  Most of what I say is in English, pero I speak as much Tagalog as I know.  Making sure that we teach people and not just lessons is very important to both Sister Quinco and I, so even though they can't always understand everything  I say, sa English, we both feel like it's important that I follow the Spirit and teach them what I feel they need, even if it is in a different language.  She translates when needed.  :)  
I so, so, so miss my previous kasama, yes Sister Alailima, that is you....  I know, I know; "alam ko, alam ko."  :)  I miss Sister Alailima's strength, sense of humor, and friendship.  I was so blessed to be such great friends with her pero I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing her again... hopefully some day... soonish. ;)
I've been missing the stupidist things from the MTC... I knew I was in trouble yesterday when we sang "Scatter Sunshine" in one of our church meetings and I almost lost it and started bawling.  I hate that song.  Our whole MTC district knew it and so they, particularly my wonderful, beautiful kasama, would sing it often, sa Tagalog.  So of course there we were in the church building yesterday, singing that song and all I could think of were my district brothers and sisters and man... now I'm going to start crying just thinking about it!  
Just kidding... I don't cry.  But really, I haven't cried yet... which is apparently abnormal.  So what's new.  
On Thursday, we went to the chapel with Brother and Sister Sambo so they could have their baptismal interviews with the district leader.  The district leader is training an elder from my "MTC-batch", Elder Despain, who was not in my district or zone but did come to the same mission at the same time.  Poor Elder... I though I was experiencing culture shock... this Elder was completely drained.  He fell asleep through all of Sister Sambo's interview and for the rest of the night just looked like a zombie.  Not going to lie... seeing him made me feel a whole lot better about how I was doing.  
Sorry... I always feel like my emails should be more spiritual than they are... Just know that my testimony is continuing to grow and that I have strong testimony of the things I am teaching, right now particularly in having faith in Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  I love you all so much!  Thank you for your prayers on my behalf and for all the missionaries in general.  We need it! :)  
Until next week!
Love, Sister Dickison