Sunday, December 25, 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Hey Mahallies! Christmas is inching closer, and I love it! We've been celebrating Christmas here since September, but it's always different watching the kids go from to house to house caroling for treats with lights shining everywhere, and everyone is always in a more cheery mood. The rain has been heavier than ever, umbrellas don't help much, but it doesn't stop us from going out to work! It's actually pretty refreshing after months of burning heat, so it's as close to my sister's "-15 degrees" as possible here in the Phils.

We became a trio on December 7th, and so this last week, I've been focusing on training my anak, Sister St. Gelais, from Arizona (she's 1/4thfilipino), and killing (not literally guys...) my going-home companion, Sister Swanson from Utah. She's going home on the 28th, so we're going to have her for Christmas but be all alone for the New Year - I'm going to miss her so much! She and I get along really well - we can be sassy with each other, so you know we're always having really good laughs. Especially this last week.

On Monday, our homeless investigator, Jhun Tempongko, got us each of us a carrot cake with creme cheese toppings as our Christmas gift! We asked him to give the prayer for our lesson, and during his prayer, he expressed sincere thanks to God for allowing us, as his missionaries, and this gospel to make a difference in his life. He promised God, although he knows that we'll be leaving soon, he would continue to stay steadfast in the truth of this gospel. His conversion continues to amaze me - he's already half way through the book of Mormon! I can't wait to watch him be baptized.

Then on tuesday, we were teaching our cute, old, deaf recent convert, Sister Prima. Right after we closed the lesson, they got us food, and I turned to my anak and midway through our conversation, she got crazy eyed and straight up smacks me on the back of the head! And at this point i'm in shock - obviously I have no idea why she keeps smacking me, and I'm laughing and confused all at once, and I look up at Sister Swanson and she's not helping at all!!! Just dying of laughter screaming THAT THERE IS A COCKROACH IN MY HAIR. YES THAT IS CORRECT. THERE WAS A NICE BIG COCKROACH USING MY HEAD AS A NICE PLACE TO LAY ITS NASTY EGGS. 

This last week has been really different - being a trainer is A LOT of pressure some days, especially with the thought of my co-trainer, Sister Swanson, heading back to America. But I'm grateful for the opportunity to train at the same time my sister is being trained. If I ever struggle, I just think of my cousin JJ's advice "to think of them as your siblings" and it makes it a lot easier to love them! My little anak is actually making tons of progress, and it makes me really proud of her. She really takes what I say to heart, and then works on it, so I'm grateful for her willingness to improve, and I continue to learn from her daily. 

I'm grateful for this mission, for the opportunity to serve Filipino people, and especially grateful this Christmas season, to be able to remember all that Christ gave for my salvation. I hope, for each of us, we will extend kindness to all around us and remember that He never complained, and neither should we. "If you give of your money, you give much. Give of your time, and you'll give more. But if you give yourself, you give all."

I challenge each of you to give yourselves to God, by serving your fellowman. #lighttheworld

I love you and miss you all! 

Sister Calica 

Merry Christmas

Merry CHRISTMAS Mahallies! 

So I'm so excited to tell you all about my Christmas week so far - it's been hilarious.
 
On tuesday, we caught a mouse in our apartment this week - thanks mom, those traps were finally put to good use. then on the 25th, we caught an even bigger RAT running around in our bathroom. Shoutout to my anak, because there is NO WAY I was gonna pick that thing up to throw it away.

Then on wednesday, my companions were having a nice meal at a bbq stand on beside an ukay-ukay...and ended up shoveling down a whole plate full of nice black ANT rice (you should've seen their faces when they realized - Sister St. Gelais literally sprayed it out and there were rice and ants flying everywhere HAHAHA PRICELESS). 

Thursday was the Christmas Party, and the whole Cavite mission met in one building to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! I was able to perform a song for everyone, called "Who could imagine a king". I finally saw my batch again, Elder Tedrow and Elder Cook, and it amazes me that a whole year had passed, and so many things have changed! I can't believe that this is my last Christmas on the field - it doesn't feel real. At the party, we had an exchange gift - i got a cool donut pillow - and received some gifts given by members, and I cannot express how EXTREMELY grateful I am for the support, love, and kindness of people who support the missionaries. It makes being away from home a little easier, to know that others appreciate our sacrifice. But more than that, it makes me even MORE grateful for the sacrifice that Heavenly Father made by giving us His Son. 

I'd love to hear if any of you have been participating in the 25 days of Christmas, or if you've done any service for anyone. 

On Christmas day, we taught a lesson to brother Jhun and gave 2 ties and a white polo. Then we went to Bishop's and had a 5 star dinner and watched the best 2 years. And at the end of the night we exchanged our Secret Santa gifts and Sister Table got me a super cool cultural figurine. I finally got to skype my family this morning at the Tiongson's house, and I can't wait to see my dear loved ones in 4 months. quote of the week? marriage advice from Brother Tiongson: "Three C's of relationships, don't compare, don't complain, don't criticize" 

 I'm still grateful to be out here!

I know this gospel to be true. I know that we are so blessed to have our Savior, Jesus Christ, and a perfect plan to return to our Heavenly Father. I hope that none of us forget the real reason we celebrate Christmas - to celebrate the miracle of an ever loving, ever merciful Lord, willing to sacrifice His all so that we could have it all. I'm so grateful for His teachings, and so blessed to share it with everyone I speak to. 

I'm grateful for each of you, and I pray that you seek to have the blessings of this true gospel for yourselves.My invitation for each of you is to read the Book of Mormon, and find out for yourself. Merry Christmas my loves!

- Sister Calica

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thanksgiving

 Happy Thanksgiving to you, my lovely family <3
>
> It's crazy to think that just a year ago, I was on a plane ride over to my new home here in the Phils, and that here we are a year later, and Sister Calica || was heading out to hers on the same day! ALSO you have to know that i literally waited up all night and day to make sure i'd get that call from sister calica so that's honestly so STINK that it didn't work but y'know thanks for trying bc obviously the love is real. 😉💟😘
> My companion and I tried to celebrate thanksgiving but one of our kabahays (sister Verances) was just NOT in the jolly ol' thanksgiving mood and said that they don't celebrate thanksgiving here in the phils so Sister Swanson and I ended up celebrating on our own and went out on a cute date to this little cafe right next to our house. This week was pretty amazing! Some miracles we'd witnessed: 1.Our homeless investigator, Jhun, read 83 pages in the tagalog book of mormon in ONE DAY. AS IN, he's caught up to my month's worth of studies in a single day. I was amazed, but curious if he actually understood it, and so I started explaining that the book of mormon ISN'T the mormon bible and isn't about mormon, and he replies "i know that this is just a book - but i know that it's the word of God. and it testifies of Christ. And it has all my answers - if I have any questions, I just have to read, and I get my answers" AND I FOR REAL JUST WANT YOU ALL TO MEET THIS GUY BECAUSE HE'S SUCH A GOLDEN INVESTIGATOR!!!!!!! This last week, we had stake conference far from our normal ward. People have to attend church 4 times in order to be baptized, and I was honestly concerned that he wouldn't go, because of course he works really hard to try to make enough money to have enough food, BUT BEFORE WE EVEN ASKED IF HE WAS GOING HE SAYS "don't worry sisters, i'll meet you there" and paid the whole fare on his own. he actually ended up getting lost, but eventually found his way to the church and got there even earlier than us. He showed up in his best white shirt, and EVEN took off his beanie (which he'd been embarrassed to do thus far because of the wounds on his head) but then looked around and felt embarrassed because he said everyone was so well dressed. So he sat outside and read the pamphlets and contemplated if he should stay or leave...and then he told us that one of the members invited him in and made him feel welcome! we were so grateful for such a miracle.
>
> I've realized the meaning behind "teaching people, not lessons". It is SO important to LOVE everyone we meet. we decided to take a different approach with one of the less actives we'd been struggling with and had pretty much lost hope on. We came in, and just started talking, and it's AMAZING how much she opened up. Usually, I feel like we just share a verse with her, tell her to come to church, she'll make some excuse about why she can't make it, and then we leave discouraged. but this time - this time was SO different. After listening to her testimony about how she knows this church is true, and that she knows she's lacking the action to prove it, She TOLD US that she'd come to church, and that she wanted to go back to the temple too. I was amazed. It was then that I realized that the question should never be "what are we teaching to our investigators today?" it should be "what do my investigators need to learn, need to feel, and need to experience to move closer to God"
>
> I am so grateful. We also got guitar lessons from our cute little Recent Convert, Nanay Prima, so that was amazing. i could see how happy it made her to feel like a teacher again (: She's deaf, but so talented - aka we should all work to add to our talents, because we'll use them still, even in our old age!
>
> I love being a missionary, and I can't wait for all of you to experience this for yourselves.
> Jeremiah 1:4-10
>
> I love you all!
>
> Sister Calica |
>
> Pictures of me in the jungle, sister swanson and I with brother Jhun, a family home evening with Rex and NovieFaith (i made her a poster lol) and one with my other kapatid, sister aquino, and nanay, sister livermore (who is leaving to usa in a few days! dec 7)

#lighttheworld

Hey Mahallies!

To celebrate the (less than) 25 day countdown to Christmas, my companion and I have been taking part in the #lighttheworld 25 ways in 25 days challenge. Everyday until Christmas, we take part in some type of service that reflects the sacrifice and love Jesus Christ did during his time on Earth. It feel so amazing to serve, and be served, and as we do so, it makes us more aware of all that God has done and the many blessings he has given. I invite you all to join! (: there are videos everyday to support the service of the day, so feel free to look it up. It's worldwide - so any service you're doing, you're not doing alone! Millions of people are alongside you. 


We served at a less active member's house a few days ago, by helping them garden so that they could gain some extra income (being that their financial situation is very rough) and as we did, I noticed that in their house, which was made of tin and had no furniture, stood a makeshift tree made out of rolled up red paper and used bottle caps for ornaments. I couldn't help but compare it to the tree we put up yearly at home and stand amazed at all the blessings we constantly manage to overlook. I invite you to seek to give, instead of receive, this upcoming Christmas season. I promise that as you center your hearts on Christ and not on the worldly items of the world, we will better understand the REAL meaning of Christmas - we will understand that God, as a gift to us, sacrificed His Beloved Son, that all mankind might be saved.

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I know it to be true. I invite you to find out for yourself, by joining my sister and I in the challenge her mission in North Dakota gave, to read the Book of Mormon before Christmas, and pray to know it is true, as a gift to show our love for Christ. 

I love you all!

Sister Calica |

Monday, November 7, 2016

Happy :)

OKAY for all of you who want to know...SISTER CALICA 2.0 IS AT THE MTC and is doing amazing, and I'm gonna add a little pic at the bottom and a little throwback pic on my own because #MASAYA (HAPPY)
 
This week has been awesome! My companion, Sister Swanson, and I walk miles and miles and miles without rest, but it's 100% worth it. We've gotten to meet and teach tons of people, and their back story never ceases to amaze me.

There is one little old woman that was converted into the church for a little under a year now, and we go to visit her often, to offer service and share spiritual thoughts. What I love about missionary work is that it's all about LOVE and our message applies to everyone. This nanay was always so happy and preppy, until last thursday I'd never guess that she had such a tragic backstory. She got married at 13 and lost her 2 children and 19 year old husband in a bomb in incident, just 4 years after getting married. She spent the rest of her life studying and teaching in africa and america to try to forget them...but as she shared her experience with us, it was obvious that the pains were still fresh, as she couldn't finish due to tears.

I am grateful that I know that I know - and that she can find comfort in the fact that - life doesn't end here. Our souls are eternal, there is life after death, and we are meant to share that life with our families forever in the presence of God. I'm grateful for my family, and their love and support for me. I'm grateful for this gospel and for the chance I have to share it with the world. I hope that each of you may take the time and truly appreciate the message that God has been waiting to share with you! 

I love you all and hope the best for you always, 

Sister Calica 
 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The time is far spent, there are 6 months remaining...


M A H A L L I E S

Hey loves. The time has flown by so fast! I honestly can't believe I've already hit my one year mark. I think that if one year could fly by that fast...six months is going to be done in the blink of an eye. And...it's not that I don't like you guys or something...but I honestly don't want to go back to America ahaha I love my mission way too much. The people are wonderful, the food is fattening, the spirit is converting, and the love is never ending. 

I'm grateful for my family, who've been celebrating my brother(Josh)'s 17th birthday and my little sister (Sabrina)'s mission farewell *SHOUTOUT TO YOU GUYS I MISS YOU TONS*...because they included me in the celebration by sending me a 1 year package of my own! It had chocolate and tissues and books so I could cry tears of joy and eat my feelings all at the same time, then read something uplifting to push me forward. They know me way too well ahaha but honestly my one year was great thanks to my companion and kabahays who set up a huge tarpaulin with my face raging across it (and also featuring the three of them partying in a jeepney on the sidelines) and a delicious yema cake haha #itsmorefuninthePhilippines diba?! 

Tons of other crazy things happened these last two weeks - first i'd like to speak of Cherryanne. She's a recent convert, and had only been a member for about 4 months now. She suddenly stopped going to church one week because she had to help her sister set up for a huge statue worship event...and after that things all went downhill. She just stopped coming all together, and when we went to go visit her, her eyes were dark and she said that she'd seen bad spirits in her home. She saw one possess a lady down the street, and had been lighting candles and opening scriptures all around her house in a desperate attempt to get them to go away. It was honestly a little bit horrifying to speak to her...because, i guess the best way to explain it was that she felt "dark". Even just giving her a hug...felt empty. AGH and then the way she looked at us, it was like no one was inside. I know this probably seems very far off from reality, but here in the Phils, EVERYONE believes in dark voodoo spirits so this was just...NOT OKAY. But in a brave attempt to try and help, we spoke with her and asked her why she hadn't been going to church or praying. We listened to her concerns, and earnestly urged her to pray, read from the Book of Mormon, and listen to hymns to try to invite the spirit back into her life. She agreed to do so. We left and came back the next day and I kid you not - She didn't even need to say she'd done it - I could feel the difference when I walked into her home. I could see it in her eyes - it was like she had the shine restored back into them. She told us that she'd been playing church music since we'd left the night before, and that she'd read her scriptures, and prayed...and hadn't been bothered by the bad spirit - it'd left.  

I know that this gospel is POWERFUL. It comes directly from Heaven. Each and every one of us are very special children of the Most High Being - Heavenly Father. He loves us, and wants us to be happy. No matter how powerful the adversary is, and no matter how hard he tries to pull us down, I know that we can stay firm and that our testimonies will not be shaken if we rely on our Heavenly Father, and on His beloved son, Jesus Christ. I know that the Spirit of God will testify to you of these things. You are loved, prayed for, and blessed more than you know.

Of these things I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

1 Yr

Hey Mahallies!

So like I said last week, October is crazy. Babies are being born, my brother's turning 17, my sister's leaving on a mission, and our living prophet and apostles have filled our minds with tons of new spiritual insight, AND MY BATCH AND I ARE HITTING ONE YEAR ON THE MISSION FIELD ON THE 14TH! Isn't it all so wonderful? 

It was such a blessing to watch the General Conference from a different country, for the first time! Singing along with the missionaries as they sang "Called to Serve" and "I'll go where you want me to go" brought me so much happiness - I'm so grateful to be a missionary, and to be blessed with the opportunity to share a beautiful, heaven-sent message about how Jesus Christ has paved a way for all of us to return to our Heavenly Father, and more than that, to return together as families, to be together for all time and eternity. 

So many things happened this week, it's hard to sum up all I've learned, seen, and heard in a few paragraphs. Rex Paras, our little boy who was recently converted last month, turned 11 on Sunday! We came over to his house with cake and some pokemon lego, and you guys should've seen how happy he was! His mom, Jennifer, told us that they never had cake for their birthdays (because they couldn't afford it) and they were so grateful we had done so much to make it memorable for him. For me, back at home, cake on birthdays seems like something "given", something expected, something I honestly wouldn't notice very much because I'd take it for granted...but watching how much joy it'd bring people who aren't used to having such blessings in their lives made me realize how important the basics are.

Just the same, I believe that too often, we grow numb to the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or of God's love. We begin to feel entitled to blessings and want more, but thank less. Blessings such as family, opportunities to study the scriptures and uplifting/educational literature, our homes, our jobs, food, etc the list could go on forever, but more often than not, we forget to have an attitude of gratitude and positivism, and search for what we lack.

So today, I'd like to invite you to look through your life, and write down every time you'd felt the spirit, or felt God's love, or experienced miracles, and thank Him for those things. And afterwards, ask Him what you can do to show him how grateful you are for His tender mercies. Look through your life, and think of any sins you've left unrepented, and seek forgiveness from Him. And I promise you, that you will find the peace, joy, and beauty in life you didn't know you were looking for. I know that He loves you, and He blesses you everyday. Evidence of His love is all around us - just look a little harder.

I love each of you, I love this gospel. I'm grateful to be a missionary, and my testimony of God's love and Christ's atonement grows every single day. My prayers are always with you! I leave these things in Christ's Holy name,
Amen. 


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Family

Hey Mahallies! 

I didn't get to write you all last week, so this entry is going to include some insight from both this week and last.

We've been able to be part of 2 huge "Family Day" events - encouraging others to research and do work for their family trees and also to encourage love and unity in the home (and if you'd like to try it out, here's the website - familysearch.com ). My friend, Sister Alapa, and I were able to sing one of my favorite Primary songs to celebrate the event, called Families can be Together Forever.

At one of the events we had a parade, and as my companion and I marched with the banner, all the members behind us handed out pass along cards about families and about God's plan for them - it was exhilarating to watch as the kids raced to try to pass on this joyful message to everyone in sight. It made me think, how great would it be if people always acted with such enthusiasm to share the gospel and spread the truth! Let us stand tall and lovingly and respectfully share what we know to be true with all those around us. especially family. 

Some families are not as fortunate as our own. This week, My companion and I had a day full of dropped appointments this week, and decided to go to an area we hadn't planned for, to visit a family we hadn't planned to visit. When we walked in, we saw all the kids curled up against the wall, in rags, and eyes swollen from tears. We were shocked and asked what happened. They told us their mom and sister had gone missing for three days and their father left them at 12 am to go find them - it was around 4 pmwhen we arrived at their house, and they hadn't eaten for days. We said a prayer and got them food, and have been back to check on them every day...but what really hit me was the fact that most of us are not aware of the many blessings before us. We take it all for granted. Let us not focus on the things of the world - remember how blessed we are to have families that can support us when times get rough and a God that is so good to us. 

A house is not a home without family. Families create the perfect atmosphere to learn and grow together. But what I know without a doubt is that our families are not limited to just our living blood - it stretches out to all those who have sacrificed and labored before us - all of our ancestors. This is why it is so important to do family history work - because they are our angels! (I don't know if any of you have ever watched Cokeville Miracle, but it's a testimony to my words, and based on a true story, so you should def go watch it!) 

I know that family is ordained of God - and our families can last a lot longer than just here and now. We were meant to be together forever! 

I love you all and hope to hear from you soon (: 



Sunday, September 11, 2016

Count your blessings, See what God has done.



Hey Mahallies!

So this week, I got to go to Tagaytay! It was the most beautiful spot ever, and I felt like, from just the view, I could see the Phils go on forever! It's amazing what has been created by God's hand. 

In other news, I'd love to speak to you today about blessings. This week, our investigators, Jennifer Gonzales, Mcjinx Paras, and Rex Paras got baptized! This family is amazing, and I don't think I've ever met people so ready for the gospel. 

We visit them almost daily, and have grown very close to each of them. From just seeing them, you'd never be able to tell that they had come from such hardship. Their home is built out of boards and tin, on top of a field of mud. Their source of living is their vegetables, which Nanay Jen sells all day, and what they can't sell...that becomes their meals. During lessons, they'd share about their lives, and told us that this year was a lot more blessed than before - they used to go house to house collecting plastic to make money, and would have to bathe in a filth ridden river by their home. The boys would only be able to go to school twice a week, because most days they'd try to help their mom get enough money for food. And they laughed as they told us that they LOVED the rain! They would take out buckets to collect it all so they could cook and have a clean shower and wash their clothes. They spoke of it as such a blessing. And yet, with all this "lack" they still manage to laugh and love each other. They are closer than almost any other family I've ever seen. They are willing to share and go out of their way to feed us whenever they have the means to do so. 

I remember one night, they shared a meal with us, and allowed us to get first pickings. Sister Jen said, "go ahead and take all that you want! Don't be shy." So my companion and I scooped some corn beef on our plates, and after we were finished, I watched as Mcjinx put some on his. His brother, jokingly (but actually meaning it) said HEY HEY SLOW DOWN! OTHERS OF US HAVE TO EAT TOO!...and only then did I realize that the small bowl of meat was all they had to eat.

I don't think that any of us will ever really understand how gracious God has been to us each and everyday, until we experience for ourselves, and see first hand, exactly how blessed we are. These stories are not rare. Most of the people - even my companions - have told me that they come from families that have gone periods where food was scarce and the lifestyle was low...and yet, they still find it in their hearts to see the blessings they have been given. 

I love the people here, and from their examples alone, I have learned so much. I'm ever grateful for all that I have been given, for my education, for my family, for my friends and loved ones, for this gospel, and for all the opportunities God has given me. Please, never ever believe that blessings have been scarce. Because if you have shoes on your feet and enough food to eat, you've already been given much, much more than the people here. 

I know that Heavenly Father is aware of you, but do your best to be aware of Him. Give thanks for all you have - count your blessings. I promise you that as your share, as Christ would, you will always have enough, and your blessings will only multiply.

I leave these things with a humble heart, in Jesus Christ's sacred name, Amen. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

With Love,

Mahallies! So my kabahays and I finally moved into our new apartment, and it's BEAUTIFUL. GOODBYE TOILET SHOWER, hello wall of separation! (for those of you who've never been to the phils, you probably wouldn't understand...but just look it up on the internet or something. our shower is just a bucket...and the floor ahahaa there is no divider. #yayPHILS ahha just kidding, it's not that bad, but y'know. just one of the things you don't see very often in the states. BUUUUT Can i just say how much I love it here? i would use the toilet shower for the rest of my life if it meant i could be here forever. Golden City is full of blessings and some of the kindest people I've met in my entire life. 

This week, I've learned to love the Lord more than I ever have in my entire life. He'd given me another chance to improve myself, and the sand and stars could never amount to the number of tender mercies He has bestowed upon me. I can't even begin to express how continually blessed I am to be able to share about the plan God has for each of His children and the sacrifice that Christ made for each of us. 

I've learned this week of the importance of love. Knowing that we are children of our Heavenly Father and that He loves us, and we are WORTH loving changes how we think of ourselves. Acknowledging that others are also children of our Heavenly Father, and that our brother, Jesus Christ, sacrificed His life for them as well should change how we treat others, and inspire us to see them with love - giving them extra patience. And lastly, but most important, making the right choices out of love for God, rather than fear of Him, changes the amount of happiness we will have in our lives. Believing that God has given us rules and regulations as restrictions make life seem like prison cell, but when we understand that He has given us commandments as steps to become more like His son, Jesus Christ, we will realize that the motivation behind it all was always love.

Let us seek to serve others with love, and to serve God with love. We shouldn't choose to obey God and serve others just because we're afraid of the consequences - that is selfish. We're only thinking of how the consequences will impact us. Instead, I invite us all to be selfless and strive to be better, because we want to be closer to God,&we love Him too much to do anything to hurt him. Strive to serve others, not because of the reward, or praise, or consequence, but because we want to help others to feel the Christ-like charity we all hope others would show us. As my mother taught me, "One of the greatest ironies in life is that we acquire love as we give it away"

Throughout history, the prophets of God have called repentance among people. Rarely do we ever think of this as an act of love - more often than not, we think it to be an act of chastisement. We think "GET OFF OF YOUR HIGH HORSE! you're not perfect either!" But I know that they have been sent as representatives of God and that God calls us to repent because He loves us. He wants us to return to Him, and we cannot do so if we are dirtied with sin and have not used the atonement to repent and become clean. He wants so badly for us to come back into His arms, and has given us all the tools to do so. I know that our leaders are called of God - and that we have a living prophet on the earth today, by the name of Thomas S. Monson. Heavenly Father has an equal love for the people of olden times as He does for us, and knows that we need guidance because our specific needs are not the same as those people in times of old. I'm grateful, that because He loves us, He has given us direction. I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon and for the Bible, which stand as a constant reminder that God still speaks to His children today. I'm grateful for this gospel, and hope to share it with each of you, because it is something that has changed my life, my family, and my relationship with God - and I know it will do the same for you. You are so, so, so very loved. You are prayed for. And you are known by our Father in Heaven. Please don't ever doubt His love for you, or the love of His son, Jesus Christ. 

I know these things to be true, and I'm happy to leave my testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

A time for change

"Alma 50:16"

Mahal na mahal na mahaaaalllll ko kayo, Mahallies! I just wanted to go ahead and thank everyone for the love and early birthday greetings. it's the big 2-1 everybody! Aha, it's actually my first birthday away from home, so it's definitely one for the books. 

I love my new area, and all the people here. I'm new, but they've done all they can to make me feel so welcome! Grateful for all the food, the packages, the prayers, and the love they've given. 

Today, however, I wanted to speak of the greatest gift you and I have been given: The Atonement of Jesus Christ. His love for us started long before the cradle in Bethlehem, and the impact of his sacrifice will continue to affect us forever. What's amazing is that, in just the space of 3 years of His ecclesiastical ministry, He taught us all we must know to be headed back towards the Heavenly Kingdom of Heavenly Father. And I, in comparison, have been blessed with 18 months to share why His 33 years on Earth means so much to all of us.

The Atonement He paid makes it possible for us to be cleansed from the frailties of mortality - and the sins we've accumulated throughout our lives. I've known this throughout my life, but it isn't until you apply the atonement that you realize it's worth. Avoiding repentance and covering up sin is like walking down the pathway of life with a ton of rocks in your backpack. Adding a rock every time you sin, and getting weighed down...when we could be moving forward a lot faster with the weight lifted off our backs. The only way for that weight to be lifted is through repentance. By doing all we can to fix our wrongs, then giving all our sins to God to make amends. There is no point in continually going down the wrong road - no matter how far you get, you're only further from the place you want and need to be - further from His Heavenly Kingdom. 

I know that repentance is hard. But I also know that we are daughters and sons of a loving Heavenly Father. That won't change, no matter what we've done. HIs love will never evaporate or lessen. But I know OUR love for Him, and His son, Jesus Christ, will only increase when we learn to let go of ourselves, of our weaknesses, of our sins, and sacrifice them all to be closer to Him. I know, without a doubt, that we mustn't judge. If people try to change and make amends and be a better person, we should push them forward. No one should ever be described based on their worst sin. I know that we must learn to show a Christ-like love and forgive with a Christ-like forgiveness if we want to be any closer to the person He would have us be. 

I am grateful for another year to learn, to grow, and to serve. I couldn't be more thankful for your love and support. I pray for you all, and wish you all happiness. I'm grateful for my loving and merciful Heavenly Father, my brother and Savior, Jesus Christ, and my guide and comfort, the Holy Spirit. I'm grateful for the scriptures - the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I appreciate the sacrifices of all the prophets of God. I beg you all to strive to grow closer to God, and let go of anything holding you back from doing so. It will change your life, and your eternities. I leave this as my earnest hope and prayer for all of you, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen. 

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21 Candles


Gusto ko lang nagpapasalamat muna sa lahat ng mga loved ones ko - aking pamilya at yung mga kaibigan ko. Maraming salamat sa birthday wishes ninyo at lahat ng mga regalo ibinigay niyo sa akin! I'm amazed that despite the distance, you've all made the effort to show your love and support for me (and although I probably won't be able to reply to all of your emails this week) I want you to know that i'm so grateful that you cared enough to think of me this week! A very, very special thank you to my family, who were amazing enough to send me enough food and stationary and other household items to provide for a city of people (my kabahays also send their thanks, seeing that half these things will be sustaining them as well ahaha) and for the love I felt from home! 

I thought my birthday would just be another normal day, considering i'm in a new area where I don't know the people very well...but it was full of blessings! We literally spent every hour of the 26th celebrating. My kabahays woke me up exactly at 12 to open the box from my family (which they rewrapped with a bunch of liahona articles and topped with a huge red bow) and they made the sound effects (the "oohs" and ahhhs") necessary to make any good gift great as I took apart my balikbayan box ahaha. I thought that was it for my birthday surprise...but then they woke me up again at exactly 6:30 singing happy birthday with cake and a huge poster they stayed up all night making. We went out with the Elders to a Korean restaurant, and then had back to back dinners with the members. It was honestly so much fun, I couldn't help but thank God for being so merciful and kind enough to make me feel special and loved.

Don't think me to be naive - I am fully aware that God's love doesn't always come in the form easily seen blessings. This last week has been a week of testing for my testimony - a week in the refiner's fire. But I know that this test has been a gift as well, for God had seen me fit enough to grow and become more Chirst-like than the person I was before. 

With every trial that comes our way, we are given the opportunity to allow it to define us and defeat us or to learn and grow from it. Let us each be refined by the God's fire - it will put us under pressure and challenge us to be better, but in the end, we will be much closer to the best person this world has ever known - Jesus Christ. Let us accurately self evaluate ourselves, give credit to God for all of our achievements, and be understanding of others, because they too are struggling to become purified. Don't we all wish to receive support and love and understanding from others around us? We don't know the full depth of anyone's backstory, so let us seek to improve our own imperfections first, before we start to point out others. 

My prayer for you is that your love for God grows enough to not only avoid sin and temptation...but to despise the idea of anything that would separate you from returning to His presence again.   

I love you all and am so grateful for your willingness to serve your fellow brothers and sisters. I know that God loves you, and wants the very best for you. Please don't ever doubt that. Everything we do, we should do with the motive to be closer to Him. He lives, and heaven is rooting for your success. 


Monday, August 15, 2016

Happy 10 Months of Service

Nakakamiss naman mahallies!

bakit malayo kayo? Grabe naman. Pero malapit na akong uuwii! 8 months nalang!

Haha I just reached my 10 months yesterday everyone...not that i'm counting or anything! *wink* hahaha JOKE LANG i've decided i'm just never gonna leave the phils because i love it here way too much. 

This week's been really amazing. My housemates are just about the coolest people ever (since we're all batch) and we've just been having the time of our lives out here in Golden City. As for cool things that went down this week, I've basically been swimming in a sea of mud for the last week because it's rain (flood) season. We got to serve a little old lady by cleaning her house and cracking open coconuts (i'll send pics about that next week aha), and we've been fighting off spiders the size of my face (and by we, i mean my companion...because she's matapang and I just can't handle). Our area's still pretty new, but we've found some families i KNOW are ready for the gospel. Their desire to learn and to follow God's commandments never ceases to amaze me.

There is something different, something amazing, that happens when you allow God to change you. When you allow His gospel, His teachings, into your heart and not only learn to live the principles...but learn to love them as well. As we build our desire to become more obedient, we build our desire to be more like Christ. If you are unhappy now, following the commandments He has set before us, how much more unhappy will you be in the life to come? Those are the laws of Heaven! If we're struggling to endure through them, gritting our teeth, and forcing ourselves to give up what we want for what God wants...we're not living the way He would have us live. We were meant to grow, not just change our habits for a little while. This means we are meant to love with a Christ-like love, not just ignore those we find hard to appreciate. Our relationships carry over with us. We are meant to treat others with kindness, not because of the praise, but because we feel that they have divine importance. We are to live as daughters and sons of the Most High, because that is exactly who we are. Let us not degrade ourselves and fill our minds with ungodly contents - which includes bad thoughts.

Do a little more to be little more like our Savior this week. Love Him enough to see others as He does, and understand the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Strive to be more obedient, and to love to follow Him...because this change of heart will change your lives. I'm grateful for this gospel, grateful for my Heavenly Father and His willingness to give up His Son for all of us. Grateful for my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and for His atonement. I'm grateful for the spirit that never ceases to enrich my life. 

I love you all, and I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. They love you. The spirit will guide you - follow Him, and allow Him to guide you closer to Them.

May we always choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong and may we be ever willing to do His will instead of our own. 

My love and prayers are with you always,

Monday, August 8, 2016

Serving the Lord in the City of Gold

Being sent on the Lord's errand is so rewarding. This last week, I'd been blessed to see the change brought to pass by the spirit in the lives of four special people: Rolando Ibardaloza, Harrold Torres, Robert James Ibardaloza, and Princess Ibardaloza. 

If only you all knew the obstacles, prayers, and fasting it took to bring about this miracle. Brother Rolando changed completely, giving up all his vices, that he might be closer to God and one step closer to being forever with his family. 

After 8 months, i'm finally saying goodbye to my beloved San Pedro home. I've been called to a new home - Golden City! I'm more than excited to serve the people there, and am so grateful for the opportunity to be His representative. Here's a voice recording for you all to update you on my week. and a song to bring the spirit, haha. hopefully you all feel uplifted by it. I love you and i'm grateful for you! 

Golden City is Golden

I'm livin' in the City of Gold, Mahallies, and I love it here.

It was super bittersweet saying goodbye to San Pedro and all those I've grown to love (especially my companion, Sister Beltran) buuuut I am so happy to be in my new area! I know, without a doubt, that it has been prepared. 

My new companion, Sister Basilio, is so willing to serve everyone she meets, is humble, full of gratitude, patient, and is so full of joy! It was so easy to feel comfortable with her, and we agreed that after only 4 days, it felt like we'd known each other for years! My new kabahays are tons of fun as well (Sister Table and Sister Verances). We bought a bunch of Filipino knick-knacks and they've been teaching me how to be a REAL filipino! Parents, if you're reading this, you'd be proud to know...I officially am a master of jack stone and chinese garter (haha not really, i still suck, but I'll work on my skills, and we'll play when I get home ahaha). 

As for the area and the members, people here are SO kind! And the scenery is beautiful. It's half city, half province. The members just want to stuff the missionaries with food constantly (which we greatly appreciate) and it's only been 5 days...but I feel at home already.

In the last few days, I learned something very key to happiness: we should never suppress a generous thought. Whether it be a thought to serve,to say something kind, to listen to someone in need of listening, or to express our love for others...these small acts of kindness go such a long way. It says so much about our character, our love for our fellow man, and ultimately, our love for God.

People call themselves Christians, but how often do they actually think of Christ? How often do their actions reflect His, and their words uplift, the way His would? We cannot be Christians by the title alone, but it is necessary that our Christianity be conveyed by thought, word, and deed. 

Do you love God? Do you love everyone?
if the answer isn't the same, the first one isn't true. 

Because if we really loved our Heavenly Father, we would love each and every member of His family, and seek to see their worth the way He sees them. We are each, individually, of infinite worth in the sight of our Heavenly Father. 

I'm grateful for the examples of love and patience I've seen in my own life. My family members and companions are great examples of this. I'm grateful for every opportunity I've had to practice and develop charity. I know that as we strive to develop Christ-like attributes, such as charity, love, and a willing heart to serve, we can gain the joy and peace that comes from following in His ways. So...if you find yourself a little short on patience today, or have the prompting to do something kind for someone...don't hesitate to do the right thing. We are designed to grow, to develop, and to become someone better than we are. Heavenly Father cares a lot more about who we can become than who we were...so if you've struggled with the ability to love those around you, pray for help and push forward! Don't ever tell yourself you can't, because that's the adversary's biggest lie. Go forth and serve 😇 

Mahal na mahal ko po kayo, at alam ko ang Ating Ama sa Langit ay iingatan po kayo. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Families can be together forever

Today, I just wanted to express my gratitude for the plan and opportunity given to each of us, to be with our families forever. This upcoming week, I will be able to witness the baptism of one of our investigators, Brother Rolando Ibadaloza. He is honestly amazing. He'd been taught by the missionaries before, but never felt inspired to REALLY learn and accept the gospel for himself until now. He'd been a heavy smoker, and would drink alcohol and coffee almost daily before...but since we'd started teaching him, his ability to give up his addictions doubled because of his faith and motivation to be with his family forever, even after death. He has been interviewed, and has been found worthy to be baptized, and will be, along with his grandchildren, on the 30th! 

I believe in "FOREVER" and I know that Heavenly Father wouldn't send us to learn to love and grow relationships with people that only have temporary importance. It is one of the most beautiful aspects of this gospel, that we can be with the people we love the most for infinity. And that even if we don't feel like we belong to our families, we are all part of Heavenly Father's family, and He loves us MORE than we even deserve. I don't think we gain His love...because if we could gain it, that would mean we could lose it. I believe that He loves us unconditionally, fully knowledgeable of all our flaws, weaknesses, and mistakes. It's the adversary that screams that God doesn't care, that no one listens to our prayers, and that we're alone...but I hope that you never fall for that sad lie. You are known and loved individually by our Heavenly Father, and there is no one in this world who could understand your struggles more than His Son, Jesus Christ. Our purpose in this life is to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and make our way back to Them. 

Some have forgotten this purpose, and have forgotten the importance of our Heavenly Home. But don't allow the distance and the short time away to sway you off the path back to them. The path is simple, but not easy to follow. Don't be distracted by the temptations of the world. He only asks us to do little things, but those little steps lead us to where we will spend the rest of eternity.  

Being away from my earthly home (aka good ol' california) has proven to me that time and space really cannot overpower love. It only adds to it! SO, YOU LUCKY DUCKS, TELL YOUR FAMILY YOU LOVE THEM EVERY SINGLE DAY! Pray for each of them by name, and seek to know them personally, and to serve them without murmuring. If there is anything I could ever do to serve you, please don't hesitate to ask. I miss you all more every passing day, especially my family, but as the saying goes, "A missionary is someone who leaves their family for a short time, so that others may be with their families for ETERNITY". I am so blessed to be able to witness the Ibadaloza family grow one step closer to being a forever family!

I'm grateful for what I've learned from each of you, and the opportunity I've had to apply those teachings out here with those I've associated with. I'm grateful for the Holy Spirit and the comfort I know it can provide to those who seek His presence. I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve the people here in the Phils! The people I serve and the missionaries I serve with have def become additions to my family. I love you all, and I hope you continue to see the blessings of building family relationships!