Thursday, November 26, 2015

LANDED.

Kamusta everyone 💟

Just wanted to let you all know that I arrived safely in manila last night! The 20 hour plane ride was killer, but I am SO happy to be here. I've literally been in this country for less than a day, and have already made a billion new friends. EVERYONE at this MTC is so kind and welcoming! Hahaha i feel like I'm famous half the time because so many of them come up to meet me! AGH but i can feel the love so strongly here. They all think I'm half filipino...so maybe I'll just go with that and then they won't expect me to learn tagalog as quickly LOLOL 

Interesting sightings thus far: 6+ dinner table chairs were stacked on top of some type of flat piece of wood and was somehow made into a vehicle, which was being driven on the freeway LOL. Their Christmas lights are up and ready and THEY ARE SO BEAUTIFUL! the people here go waaaay out in decorating so it beats out any of the american christmas trees i've seen. A cockroach the size of the palm of my hand greeted me in the toilet when i first got to my room. but my favorite part was the Manila Temple. It's right across from the MTC and it was by far the most gorgeous temple ever. I'm going to go inside later on today for an endowment session with my district! THEY SERVED US FILIPINO FOOD FOR BREAKFAST and it isn't as hot here as i expected, just really humid. So yeah, when it comes to betting whether i'll pack on the pounds or lose weight out here...i'd def put down that i'm gonna gain major weight. dont worry though. I'll just get a worm or something before i go back, so i'll have a souvenir and a rockin' bod HAHAHAHA

I know i'm meant to be here. I think, of everyone, i was the most excited...mostly because I feel like I'm at home. I mean, there are a million new faces and places i've only seen over a computer screen...but being here just feels so right! So don't worry about me - I'm in God's hands. I'll be giving my all into this work, and I'm so grateful to serve. I hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving & that you'll be able to better see God's hands in your lives and the blessings He's given you. Being able to dedicate a year and a half to my God is the biggest blessing I could ever ask for, along with your support and love. Thank you for being amazing. I hope to hear from all of you soon, and can't wait to tell you all about my experiences out here! I'm gonna start knocking on doors tomorrow - ITS GETTING TOO REAL TO DEAL YALL. hahaha but until then, keep me in your prayers & i'll keep you in mine! I love you, happy thanksgiving! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

MTC Week #6

DEAR MAHALLIES

T-MINUS 3(ish) DAYS BEFORE TAKEOFF!!! 

I am beyond excited to leave, but at the same time, soooooo scared. I always get cold feet when it comes to big changes like this - and I could feel the anxiety building up! I'm sweating bullets over here! Ah, but I definitely feel the support and love from back home, and honestly, that's what keeps me going on the rough days.You can't tell, but one of the new elders (His name is elder walsh, he's tall and white as snow and ultimately the greatest person ever) is a Brit (his voice is beautiful) and he gave me a blessing this week. I'd asked for it because I'd been feeling so anxious about leaving for the PI. I just felt like I needed the extra support and comfort to know that this was right for me. The blessing was so relieving - it was like the moment he laid his hands on my head and began to speak, all my fears fled the room and it was filled with this peace. I'd never been so grateful, or so in need, of the priesthood. 

I've been thinking a lot about serving, and how it must seem strange to others to sacrifice a year and a half of my life. It really isn't a sacrifice at all though - it's an honor. I get to help others find comfort and strength and the answers to what our purpose is here, where we came from, and where we're going. Aahaha The language barrier scares me a little bit though - I'm still working on structuring solid sentences/conjugating words. AGH honestly I love learning tagalog but the sinking-in process is still pending hahahaha. I know that ultimately, i'm just a mouth piece. The language isn't a barrier- lack of the spirit is.If it's God's will, the power of the message will be conveyed, so I'm not too worried. I've seen it for myself Hahaha I have one picture of me and a red headed elder (His name's Elder Passey & he's headed to Japan in 4 weeks!) and he's an amazing elder! He bore his testimony for me in Japanese, and I had no idea what he was saying, but the spirit and conviction was there LOL so there you go folks - the spirit's like magic ahahaha

This last week has been so great. It snowed, and I usually dread the cold...but considering the fact that I probably will spend the next 17 months sweating my brains out, I was a pretty happy camper (and it made for a great photo opp) 😇 

 I just wanted to explain the background stories behind one of the pictures I'm sending, because this person impacted my life in such a wonderful way.

1. The story behind the picture of me and Sister Borja (She's the African American sister headed to Idaho) is really special to me. My first week here at the MTC was really rough. I was struggling with the language and with my companion and didn't understand why I felt so alone. I was on the couch all swollen eyed from being upset and just decided to sleep there for the night. I was so upset, because I felt like I had no friends at all, and no one cared enough to even ask...and just as that thought passed my mind, This sweet sister touched my arm and said "Sister - are you okay? I don't speak english very well, but if you need to talk...I come out here when I get upset sometimes. I just want you to know, I love you sister!" I was so shocked by her kindness - i honestly couldn't wrap my head around the fact that she would come up to a complete stranger and be so loving. I started crying again, this time such happy tears, because I felt God's love through this sister. She really was such a tender mercy to me. She's left to Idaho a couple days ago, but I know she's going to be an amazing, spiritual missionary 🙌

A lot has changed since my first week, and every week since, I've been showered with so much love from back home AND here at the MTC. I got letters and chocolate bars and music boxes and cupcakes and just all the love in the world - i couldn't be more grateful. You know you're doing life right when you dress up in work out clothes then stuff your face with cupcakes. It's just the way a good life should be. ahahaha

anyways I love you all. I'm out of time, and these are all just scattered thoughts of all the love i've felt this week and exciting things that happened, but I hope that you enjoy the read! Please take care - next time you hear from me, i'll be in the PI! I'd love to know what's going on in your lives, and you're always in my prayers. (if there's anything you feel like you want me to pray about for you specifically, please email me and tell me!) I really only wish the best for you. Ingat my loves 😘💟💟💟

Your missionary,

Sister Calica


























Saturday, November 14, 2015

MTC Week #5

Dear Mahallies, 

Here's a little insight into my life here at the MTC! I've made sooo many new friends and the more i get to know about their lives, the more i grow to love them. I couldn't be happier! I finally got my flight plans this week! We're not stopping by LAX like I thought we would, but regardless, I'm still extremely excited to fly out to my new home! ELEVEN MORE DAYS UNTIL IM BACK IN THE MOTHERLAND! It's so surreal, I can't wrap my head around the fact that I'm going to be serving these people for the next 17 months. The only real downside is that snailmail from the Philippines to the US take around a month to deliver *crying* but it's okay - that's what emails are for, right? 😄 Anyway, this week has been PACKED with blessings. 

Day 25 (11/07/15) at the MTC:
I got more snailmail/emails/packages this week from friends and family, and I honestly am beyond grateful for all the love. I'm still working on replying to them all, but snailmail is on its way! 😅
Today's highlight was a line from my mom's letter. She said "We can definitely feel the difference & more tender mercies in our lives [since you've left for your mission]. I know it's because you're praying for us." Prayers, especially sincere ones, are as powerful as blessings. Leaving my loved ones for 18 months leaves a lot of space & time to be worried about them. But I know that as long as I do my best to serve God and the people of the PI with my full heart, might, mind, and strength...you're in God's hands, and he'll take care of you. God isn't too busy to care about the little things that matter to us too. 

Day 26 (11/08):
Sundays are Fundays. So when you're a missionary, you should be able to speak about any given topic at any given time...meaning the bishop can call you to speak during sacrament and you have to be ready to get up there and cry your little heart out with all the truths you know. LOL AND THATS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO ME. I was called up to speak about baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Agh i was so flustered at first...but it's funny, because sometimes, testimonies just put into solid thoughts what you already know is true. The light of Christ is in all people. There is something good - something we can learn - from every one of God's children. The Holy Ghost is part of the Godhead, and is gifted as a permanent companion after one is baptized. & it is such a blessing. The Holy Ghost provides comfort when we feel alone or distraught. It provides guidance when we feel lost and unsure about what's the right thing to do. I realized that it's in our darkest times that God's light shines the brightest, because that's when we need him most.   

After church, my district walked around outside the temple! The one thing i love about utah is the fact that the leaves change color LOL because it is prime time for fall pics. I basically blend in with it all because i happen to be a nice shade of dirt brown LOLOL but i think my favorite pic of this week is the one of me and my friends throwing leaves into the air ahhahah! i don't know if you can tell, but i'm surrounded by giants. With my arms completely extended, 
I am about the same height as a normal human around here hahaha.

Day 27 (11/09):
I was sick today...but it was all good because we got Chick-fil-a, and everything's better when you get food from the outside world! You honestly should've seen me take a bite out of that burger (i had two, and i'm gaining major weight here guys). It was the true face of happiness. I'm pretty sure my taste buds cried a little, because it was just so delicious. Not that the cafeteria food here is bad or anything....it's just that...it's chick-fil-a. Cmon guys. It's awesome.
Haha but going through endless hours of class was a little harder since the plague made me feel a little dead inside. Ah, but I couldn't even complain, because everyone from my zone was showing me love - even my teachers! Haha they were all offering to carry my books or giving me food or letters ahahaha honestly, i love the people going to the Philippines with me. I couldn't be blessed with a better group of missionaries to learn and grow with.

Day 28 (11/10): 
I stand firm in my belief that as Christians, or just as human beings, we really shouldn't judge others. That isn't our place. We are just as flawed as the next person, and God loves us all the same. We can only afford to love one another and forgive those who've wronged us. There is no point in grudges - it's like holding a hot coal with the intention to throw it at someone. It only ends up hurting us in the end. Today, i gained a greater love for my kasama (companion). We are so, so different, but the more I've gotten to know her, the more I've come to appreciate the person she is. I'm grateful for people who are genuinely concerned with others' feelings, and that's what she did for me today. Sometimes, a listening ear is all you really need. 

Day 29 (11/11):
HOSTING - aka bringing in all the crying new missionaries LOL JOKE LANG (kinda). hahaha today all the new missionaries came in and honestly, it was kind of hard to watch people say goodbye to their families for 1 year and a 1/2(sisters) to 2 years (elders). It reminded me of saying goodbye to my family...but also helped me realize how much I've grown in confidence, comfort-ability, and spirit since I've gotten here. It feels like home (or like byu, which i guess was kind of like home). I only got to help one girl, because let me tell you - these missionaries are VICIOUS when it comes to helping new people. I literally wasn't running fast enough to the cars (thank you short legs) which meant i couldn't claim any. I met a sister (I'm pretty sure her name is sister Wilkinson. She's half thai, half american and going to Thailand) and she was so determined to make sure i hosted at least ONE girl that day that she ended up grabbing my arm, rushing me over to cars, and fighting off the rest of the missionaries to get me one. MY HERO. AHAHAHA it was super kind of her to help me though, i was such a lost cause 😂 I ended up helping a girl from Utah, headed to Texas! She was really cool. But i think the new people in my zone are cooler. They have such interesting life stories! Some of them went out for humanitarian aid in the PI others helped out in Europe...some were in the army...agh. They are so adventurous and have such strong testimonies about their love for service and God. 

Day 30 (11/12):
My companion and I taught our first overseas lesson (through skype) with someone in the PI...and it went well, but I honestly was a little discouraged. It felt like the very first lesson I'd ever taught here. I always go in with the highest expectations...that it's hard not to get disappointed over the fact that I can't say all that I want to say because of the language barrier. I realized that it's okay not to be perfect. It's okay not to know everything. I'm fluent in what I know, and for now, that's enough. There is so much room to grow, but i know that progress is progress. The speed doesn't matter as long as it's in the right direction. I know that anything is possible if I put my mind to it and trust God, so I'm just going to keep praying for the best.

Day 31(11/13)
I've gotten to know a lot more of the new missionaries. They are so loveable - it's hard to leave them so soon! The picture of me shaking an elder's hand and the one of us in front of the provo temple sign are pics with some of the new missionaries in it! They've been asking me for a lot of advice...and the more I watch them, the more I realize how much I've grown and learned since the first day I got here. It was so much easier to see the progress when I could see where I started. I think sometimes in life, it's too easy to feel like we're not progressing. We sell ourselves short and expect to miraculously be different people by tomorrow...but we have to be able to see the little bits of success that happen every single day. I think those moments are worth something. the little things add up, and create something so much bigger and better than we'd ever believe. We just can't give up.

I'd been feeling down on myself recently - feeling like I wasn't a good enough missionary because I wasn't sure if I could bring the spirit into the room as much as I wanted to & wasn't sure if I could teach people according to their needs to help them feel how much God loves them. I asked for a blessing from another missionary in my district, Elder Cook. And honestly guys, the priesthood is such an amazing thing. The blessing he gave me answered all my questions without me even bringing them up with Elder Cook. It was pretty personal, but to give you an idea, the gist of it spoke of how my family was proud of me for coming out here and that lives would be blessed bc of it, that the spirit was my constant companion, God loves me and that trials are made for our growth & experience. 

Right before my kasama and I went in to teach our investigator, Ben, the lesson we prepared for him, I felt prompted to change it. I felt like it wasn't applicable to his needs & was trying to be more aware of that. We literally went in with nothing...but I felt like the lesson was so much more powerful because we were relying on our own testimonies and God. UGH GUYS GOD IS SO GOOD. THE GOSPEL IS BEAUTIFUL AND LIFE CHANGING.

anyways, I hope all of your lives are going well. I'm still trying to get the hang of this whole "group email" thing, but I hope it gave you some insight of my life here at the MTC! I love you all and hope to hear from you! ONE MORE PDAY IN THE USA YALL!!! You're in my prayers & in my heart. Stay safe always!

With all my love, your missionary

- Sister Calica 😘💟












Saturday, November 7, 2015

MTC Week #4

Dear Mahallies,

(Yes, I'm conjugating Tagalog words like it's english. I'm out of control #RebelWithoutACause (mahal=love)) So this upcoming wednesday will mark my 4th week here at the Provo, UT MTC (Mission Training Center). I'm leaving to the Philippines on Thanksgiving, and I'm actually going to be dropping by the LAX for a connecting flight before I head off! Ugh, so bittersweet to get a glimpse of home right before I head off, but I'm so grateful. I figured, since I only have two more weeks in the US, I should probably let you all know I'm still alive and well while the internet connection is flawless and we're somewhat near the same timezone. 

These last three/fourish weeks have been full of more ups than downs.

Week one, I learned that the MTC is actually just like an extended version of BYU (not actually true, but in my opinion, they're basically the same). I thought I'd be dying of homesickness and suffering with the learning, but because they were so similar, it was easy to jump into the process of learning a new language and making new friends. I feel like there's a definite reason why I came when I did. I planned to leave for my mission at 19, but for me personally, the extra year of experience away from home made it so much easier to focus and help my new friends with their homesickness and struggles out here. 

A missionary must always have a companion(aka kasama in tagalog), to protect and to learn from. My companion's name is Sister Lyndee Romrell! She's from Idaho and loves to hunt and listens to country music. She didn't expect to go out of the states when she got her mission call, and had only slightly heard of the tagalog language. I'm not going to lie...adjusting to being with a person 24 hours a day was like growing an extra limb and trying to act like it was normal....hahahaha but my new limb's pretty cool now that we've gotten to know each other. 

(MISSIONARY VOCAB: Zone: All missionaries serving a certain area // District: All missionaries who are serving in the same area and are leaving at the same time// P-day: preparation day aka time to relax aka mine are on saturdays)


My kasama and I are the only sisters in our district, but that's totally fine because all the elders we're with are complete goofballs! Since we're all in class together 24/7, i've really developed a love for each of them. My mom sent me a package of love and goodies for halloween, and since halloween happened to fall on a P-Day, we brought out a couple blankets and had a picnic in the park in front of the Provo Temple and played mafia! It was pretty awesome (:

I've developed lots of friendships since I've gotten here, but I think the one I've developed most is mine with God. With the 4 weeks I've been out here, Recently, I've tried to make my prayers mean a little something more than usual. I feel like too often i've fallen into the habit of "Dear Heavenly Father...thank you for this, please bless me with this, in the name of Jesus Christ Amen"...and It hasn't been personal at all. I've learned if you want to talk to God, pray...but if you want God to talk to you, read your scriptures & seek Him out.I've learned to see His hand so much more in my life. All the letters of love and support I've received from those of you who took the time to send some were such tender blessings of motivation for me to keep pushing forward. I don't think you realize how much it means to me to know that someone else is thinking of me, but it really touched my heart in a way I can't describe. I've learned that the only way I'm going to learn this language is if I depend on him. It's overwhelming to think that I only have 6 weeks to learn a language. 6 weeks to learn about Christ's teachings. 6 weeks to mentally adjust to living with rice fields and dirt roads..but somehow, it's happening. I've learned that before I can do any of that I have to develop my own testimony of God's love. Because as I learn to love Him more, my want and need to serve others grows, and so does my capacity to learn. I don't know how much any of you know about Jesus Christ's atonement - but I know that Jesus gave his life for each and every one of you. I know He gave his life for me, and that he didn't only suffer for my sins...he suffered for my pains as well. He came down to experience our sadness and burdens so that he'd know, to the fullest extent, what we were suffering through and how to get us through it. I've learned that there's nothing we can do that could hinder his love for us - God is the one person who knows all our flaws and still loves us completely. So we should strive a little harder to walk in His footsteps, because He's walked in ours. 


Anyways, I want you all to know that I love you a ton and that I hope you are all doing well. I'd love to hear from each of you, so please don't hesitate to email or snailmail me a letter! I reply on Saturdays, so until next week, take care mahallies <3 

XOXO YOUR MISSIONARY,

Sister Calica