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