Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Partying it up in Sumulong

Uh.... where did this week go?!  I swear I was just sitting here emailing yesterday.  Guess I've discovered that the time goes even faster when you do exchanges two days a week instead of just one.  So crazy!!  It's amazing how even though we have less time to work in our own area than usual, we are still able to see so much progression here...  I wish you guys could have been there for my first ward missionary coordination meeting here in Cogeo.  Up until last week, we had only had one even though they're supposed to be weekly, and it was only us missionaries and the assistant ward mission leader in attendance.  During the last two weeks a new ward mission leader was called as well as two ward missionaries.  Wohoo!!  We have ward missionaries now!  Also, for the last two weeks most of the auxiliary leaders have attended our meeting and the coordination is actually happening!  I wanted to jump up and scream "Hallelujah" yesterday as our new ward mission leader, Mark, stood at the front and discussed all of the people we visit and their needs and everything... it was so great!!  The meeting has gone from being next to non-existent to now, being the best missionary coordination meetings I've ever been to.  We had some awesome lessons during the last week!  We had a particularly great one yesterday with our investigator Gloria.  We hadn't been able to visit with her for awhile.  She had read the pamphlet about the Restoration and had lots of questions for us :)  We had a wonderful visit.

Our exchanges in Sumulong were so great!  We were there last Wednesday and Thursday.  On Wednesday we had planned to work with Sister Umstead and Sister Nayadu, however, Sister Umstead was really sick so we changed plans and ended up working with Sisters' Rupp and Maraj Gill in my old area. :)  So great!!  I was able to teach Hazel again!!  She was that awesome investigator we had who was progressing so well.  Yeah... she total got baptized a few months ago and is now a recent convert :)  Her testimony is so strong and it was so great to see her progression :)  I also got to briefly see my recent convert, Tatay, who is doing well. :)  We also taught a less-active mother and son who are not less-active anymore :)  Man... So great to see all of the progression that's happened since I've left!  We also went on MTC exchanges that day and got to take two sister missionaries from the MTC with us as we visited Hazel.  It was great :)  Last time I went on MTC exchanges was right before I trained in that area.  Best part was the sisters' excitement as they got on a jeepney for the first time.  I remember feeling that way :)  The next day we worked with Sisters Umstead and Nayadu.  Sister Umstead was feeling better but she's had this same sickness on and off her whole mission so Sister Revillo told her to go to the doctor for a check-up appointment.  I really don't know why I always end up going to the hospital... I know I'm supposed to learn something from this.  Basta, for most of our exchanges together Sister Umstead and I were at Medical City talking to the doctor and then trying to make our way back to Sumulong on jeepneys and taxi's.  It was exciting... and definitely did not feel like a usual exchange :) 
Well.... that's all I guess.  I'm really looking forward to watching the General Women's Broadcast this week.  I'll have more updates on that next week.... transfer week.... Ahhhh!!!!!  My last transfer week until I go home..... *Breathing*..... :)
Love you all!!
Love, Sister Dickison

Monday, September 22, 2014

Typhoons and Makeovers at Zone Interviews

Magandang umaga po sa lahat!

So not too much has happened since I wrote you all last Wednesday...  We just, you know, went to the temple, had zone interviews on Thursday, had a no-work-Friday because of the typhoon, and then attended part of our ward's "Family Day" on Saturday.  :) Exciting stuff.
The temple session was great!  There were ten Filipinos receiving their own endowments for our session.  It was great!  Zone interviews were great too... our zone in Cogeo is the smallest zone I've ever been in... four elders and ten sisters.  Morong had five sisters and twenty elders so... big change :)  It was weird, realizing that it was my last zone interviews... ever.  Had a great interview with President and during Sister Revillo's workshop she had us all do "makeovers".  :)  It was definitely different.  Wish I had video of the four elders cleaning their faces... It was definitely the highlight of the day.  Friday morning we woke up to some serious rain and a little bit of lightning and wind.  Sure enough, we got texts from the A.P's informing us that work was cancelled and we weren't allowed to leave the apartment... ay naku.  So, we tried to keep ourselves entertained during the day by doing laundry and writing b.r.'s (kinda like yearbook entries) for people.  It was a long day... We were really happy to get out and work the next day.  Last week we were only able to work Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday in our own area so our numbers of lessons definitely wasn't the best.... learning patience :)  Despite our limited time working in our area, the work is really progressing.  We extended five baptismal dates to investigators last week, three of whom came to church yesterday.  And we had a total of nine investigators and ten less-actives at church yesterday.  So great!  We also had a great Missionary Coordination Meeting with everyone yesterday, including our newly called (and much needed) Ward Mission Leader.  Love helping get things organized and these next two months will be really exciting as far as baptisms go :)
Few stories about the people we're teaching... so we have these two investigators named Charmaine and Christ (yes, he has a unique name :)).  Charmaine's in her early twenties and Christ is 14.  Last Tuesday, we had an appointment fall-through, again, and decided to go visit these two investigators.  They are both so great and ready for baptism, especially Christ, they've just had a hard time with church attendance.  So, I opened my scriptures to share a scripture about faith with them... and then it was the wrong scripture so I picked another one on the same page... and both me and Sister Alailima were wondering where I was going with any of this, so I just sat there.... praying really hard for the Spirit.... and we ended up talking about how sometimes we have to walk in darkness before finding the light.  We talked about how taking first steps, such as attending church, can be scary sometimes.... but that we will be blessed for exercising our faith in trying and that it will get easier.  We committed both of them to come to church and then.... they came to church yesterday.  Yay!!  This is big step for both of them. :)  Also, two weeks ago we went "finding" using our ward directory.  We were searching for this less-active but we didn't even know where she lived.  It's really difficult to find people here sometimes... it's not like America where everyone has house numbers and there's street names and stuff... really, it's just kind of a big mess and you just have to ask people everywhere to find where you are.  Basta, we were walking and I just felt like we should go up these stairs (there are stairs everywhere here) and so we did.  We asked the first lady we saw if she new where 30 cluster J was... she was all, "I think that's my house."  Sure enough, she was our less-active.  We scheduled an appt with her for last Sunday.... then weren't able to go because of the other typhoon.... so we were finally able to meet with her last night.  Had a great lesson with her.  She told us she fell-away because she doesn't believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet.... we told her we understand why she stopped being active.... knowing that Joseph Smith was a prophet is an important part in knowing that this really is Jesus' church here on the earth.  Basta... great lesson, we're looking forward to going and teaching her again next week.  
I'm still loving life and just focusing on making every day count.  We will be going on exchanges with the sisters in Sumulong this week!  Wohoo!!  Can't wait to get to work in my old area :) 
Love you all!!
Love, Sister Dickison 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sketchy Service Project :)‏

Happy Temple Day!!

I've been very impatiently awaiting this temple day.... can't wait to go!  We're leaving for the temple right after emailing.  Since Morong is so far away from the city, we didn't have temple days there so I haven't been for a few months.  Makes me so grateful I've served in a mission where the temple is close and we can go so often :) 

This last week and a half has been great!!  We were able to go on exchanges with the Marikina sisters as well as with our kabahays two days ago.  So funny... about a week or so ago, our kabahays told us they wait for the first ten minutes of their companionship study every day for us to walk in their room and say we're going to work with them.  We teased them that they were going to have to wait until the very end of the transfer.... but we decided to ease their pain and work with them sooner than that. :)  When we showed up to the Marikina sisters' apartment, they weren't there.  We called them and found out they were doing service so they came back, let us put our stuff in their apartment, and then we all headed out for service.  We all laughed afterwards because the service was super, super sketchy.  What it was was these people from the health something going door-to-door and giving kids shots for tidas.... measles, I think?  Basta, it was an interesting experience standing there and watching as these random strangers gave peoples' kids shots.  That never would fly in America.... hahaha!!  Ssssoooooo sketchy..... :)  The sisters' bishop hadn't really explained what the service would be, he mostly just told them it would be a great finding opportunity.  We didn't really find any potential investigators.... guess they were a little distracted when we tried to tell them about the gospel by their screaming children or something.
We got stuck at the chapel after church last Sunday.... there was some serious wind and heavy rains... guess there was a typhoon or something... :)  Oh the joys of not having a t.v. and not knowing what's going on. :)  It was just fine.... we just had one umbrella for the four of us, but eventually we made our way home safely.
The work here is just going great!  Last week, we began using our ward directory for finding less-actives (I'm a convert now to this method of "finding").  We spent quite awhile struggling to find where some of the members lived and as we were walking, a women said, "Hi Sisters," in a way like she had some connection with the church.  Sure enough, she's part of a part-member family and her sister who was right behind her is a less-active member, not on our ward directory.  We scheduled an appointment with them and when we went to them on Saturday, the less-active was there along with many non-member relatives.  Turns out her daughter is super interested in learning more about the gospel so now we're teaching a less-active and an investigator.  I love the ward directory!!  I feel like even when things don't go as planned, Heavenly Father is always aware of your efforts as a missionary and He will guide you where you need to go. :)
I just don't understand how people can be trunky and stop working as hard just because they're going home soon.  If anything, I'm feeling a little panicked now like I have to do everything I possibly can before the journey ends.  Man.... excited to come home, but not at the same time.  Being a missionary is so weird... and awesome :) 
I had my first opportunity my whole mission to speak in sacrament meeting last Sunday.  My assigned topic was Missionary Work and Service, a topic I was more than happy to share about.  Sister Faasavalu was also assigned to speak and she gave the first talk.  Cute girl took up most of the time so both I and the speaker who came after me had to cut our talks really short, which was just fine by me :) 
I love the gospel!!  I love serving the Lord and watching as people change and align their lives with God's plan for us.  I love watching families come together and are strengthened as they beginning to be nourished by the gospel.  I love teaching little kids about the First Vision and then them asking, "So which is the true church?" and then inviting them to pray and find out for themselves and them doing so and then listening as they describe their experience.  I love less-active members realizing that they have been spiritually weakened and then exercising their faith by taking that sometimes scary first step and attending church for the first time in years.  I love sharing with members and inviting them to be part of the work of salvation.  Basta, I love it all!!  Missionary work is the best and right now, there's nothing I'd rather be doing :) 
Love you all so much!!  Ingat kayo lagi!
Love, Sister Dickison 
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Above: Picture of Sketchy Service Project

Monday, September 8, 2014

This Girl from Pateros Finally Cracked... and ate Balut‏

Magandang umaga sa lahat!!  Kamusta na kayo? 

This week was so great... and both Sister Alailima and I are so tired. :)  Phew... missionary work is exhausting and wonderful :)  We climbed some more mountains this week in our area and then ran a lot in our Mission Leadership Council (MLC) last Friday so yeah... my body's feeling kind of achy here, but that's alright... getting stronger, I think. 

My first full week as an STL was different and exciting.  At MLC on Friday we had a STL meeting with Sister Revillo and then after that had the actual MLC with the eight other STL's, twenty Zone Leaders, and the four A.P.'s... and of course President and Sister Revillo.  The Spirit was ssoooo strong there!!  It was so cool.  President talked about the organization of councils and how there's been councils since the very beginning, as we were all part of the great council in heaven.... it was really cool.  So... found out some amazing news.... in our mission last year we were averaging about 50 baptisms per month, President Revillo set a goal for 2014 that we would aim for 100 baptisms per month.  Almost every month for this year we've gotten a little bit closer, usually having between 70 something or 80 something baptisms a month, but.... we finally made it in August!!  In August our mission baptized 124 souls!  So many more than the average of 50 per month last year... So great!!  Ever since they arrived, President and Sister Revillo have been making lots of changes and our mission has grown so much.  I feel so blessed to have been part of this big transition... The Philippines Quezon City Mission really is so different than it was when I got here and although it's been hard at times with all of the change, it's so been worth it.  Anyways... we kind of had a little celebration for the occasion and after having the actual meeting in the morning, we were treated to lunch at a buffet and then went to the "Rainforest Park" in Pasig where we played games and such.  It was a blast and quite the way to start off my MLC experience :)  At the very end of the meeting, those missionaries who will be leaving this transfer bore their testimonies... Sister Doucette was one of them.  All of their testimonies were beautiful, but I felt the Spirit extra strong when my former companion bore hers.  I just love that girl!! 

Oh!  That reminds me... good news.... people she and I found in Pateros are actually still progressing, hallelujah!!  Sister Alailima went on exchanges last transfer with the sisters in Pateros and was able to work in my old area... she said Rebecca, one of the investigators Sister Doucette and I found and start teaching, is super close to baptism and attends church regularly now.... so great!!  I just remember Sister Doucette and I, especially me, struggling with feeling like nobody was progressing in our area... I especially felt discouraged since I had been there for six months.  Blessings. :)  Sometimes, you plant the seeds that other missionaries harvest :) 
Speaking of Pateros... it's the famous home of Balut... lovely partially cooked duck embryo... a favorite snack of the Filipinos.  So I absolutely have refused to try it for my whole mission.... mostly because, you know, I'm stubborn and just the fact that most of my companions and kabahays have wanted to force me to eat it has made me more determined to NOT eat it.... anywho... at the end of one of our lessons last week, our investigators gave us some balut, and I, having just informed Sister Alailima the day before that I was willing to finally try it with her since my mission is coming to a close (and she loves balut), was left amazed at Heavenly Father's knowledge of our goals and the desires of my companion's heart (and stomach).  So.... I ate it, stalling as much as possible, at guess what... it was pretty tasty.  Not a big fan of the rest of the egg, but the duck tasted great :)  Who knew?   I will send the pictures of my balut experiment.  :)
We went on our first exchanges of the transfer two days ago.  It was such a great experience for me!!  As soon as we walked inside the sisters' house, I instantly just felt this love for them... even thought I had never met them before.  So cool!!  I quickly learned that while the sister I work with may learn absolutely nothing from me, I'm going to be learning tons from them :)  I really learned so much!!  Also, I learned that it's a good thing the purpose of an STL is to love and support the other sisters because I can do those things :)  So much fun!  I do think it may have contributed to us being so tired though... we traveled early, worked with them all day, and then traveled back to our area... all after spending the previous day traveling and running around for MLC.  Welcome to the life of an STL... it's great, but tiring.  So glad I'm not one of the Training Assistants who don't even have an apartment... they just travel every day going on exchanges with other elders... kudos to Elder Hammond. 
Well... guess that's it for this week.  Love you all and hope you have a great week!! 
Love, Sister Dickison

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reunited and it Feels so Good :)‏

Hello!!  Kamusta po kayo!?

It's been such an amazing first few days here in Cogeo!  I'm loving it!!  It's so much fun to be with Sister Alailima again!!  We're having a blast!  So many times during those first few days especially, we would be doing something, like reciting the missionary purpose, and then just look at each other and bust up laughing... it's just so weird to be together again, after a year, and remembering how life was in the MTC when we had no clue what we were doing :)  So great.  I love teaching with her!  She is such a great teacher and so good at the language as well.  I'm learning lots from her every day.  Our area is so, so mountainy!!  My legs have been so sore, but I know that's got to be a good thing.... how blessed I am to be getting a serious hill workout almost everyday before I come home, haha!  The area is so beautiful!!  Our apartment is beautiful as well and we have an awesome view from our bedroom window of Cogeo and the mountains, love it!!  Haven't really had to do much with the whole STL thing yet :)  But, we'll be attending Mission Leadership Council later this week and then I'll be going on my first exchanges as an STL.  Should be exciting :)  Cool thing, Elder Hammond is the new Training Assistant in our mission, and Elders Anderson, Martin, and Tinsley are all Zone Leaders, so we'll be kind of having a mini reunion at Mission Leadership Council :)

The ward here is doing so well!  Yesterday, Sister Alailima said our attendance was three times as much what it was her first week here.  The work in Cogeo is just booming!!  Our gospel principles class was so full yesterday!  Loved seeing so many  investigators there.  We also had so many less-actives attend church.  They just barely called a new bishop in this ward and you can feel his enthusiasm.  :)  He is so masipag and has been make visits every day to the members and you can just feel his love for the people in this ward.  He also is full of lots of ideas to really help this ward grow.  So excited to be working with him for the next few months!! 
It was hard to say good bye to Morong... I really do love it out there, but I'm already in love with this area, ward, and especially the people.  This ward has the most interesting collection of characters I've ever seen and my abs are still hurting from laughing so much yesterday. 

We have some awesome investigators here who are so ready to accept the gospel.  I love it!! 
All in all, life is good and I'm so excited to be serving here in Cogeo!
Love you all an hope you have a wonderful week!

Love, Sister Dickison
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