Sunday, February 28, 2016

March Madness

Happy March, Mahallies!

How are y'all doin? I hope everything's been good back at home, or on the mission field, or wherever you're reading this little message of love! 

For those of you that don't know, I took two years of sign language when I was at BYU, and this week, I became friends with a deaf girl named Mary, and we got to sign together! It was the craziest thing, because Filipino sign language varies a bit from American sign language...but we were still able to communicate, and it was awesome because I never thought I'd actually get to use sign out here! 

My old companion, Sister Livermore, got transferred and I got a new companion, Sister Bricenio. The last day Sister Livermore and I were together, we got to teach our last lesson in English to a man from Australia. I thought, because it was in English, it'd be one of the easiest lessons I'd ever teach here in the PI...but I was completely wrong. This man really shut us off - refusing to answer any questions or even pray to know for himself if our message was true. The thing is, as missionaries, our purpose isn't to force people to believe what we believe. It's only to offer them the opportunity to hear our message and invite them to grow closer to God. I wanted to cry because while we taught the lesson, I could feel the spirit testifying to me of the truth of Christ's gospel so strongly...but his heart was so hard to it. I guess it hurts because as I serve these people daily, I've learned to love them and give them my whole heart, and wish only the best for them...and when they reject it...agh it just brings me to tears. I realized that the only thing I could do was respect the differences, because everyone has a right to believe what they choose to believe. We can only bring the Spirit UNTO their hearts. It's their choice to invite the Spirit of God INTO their hearts.

But when they do invite the Spirit of God into their hearts and lives, it is such a beautiful thing. We've been teaching a girl named Cristine Roco (She's 13) and her family. She's already read the whole book of mormon as just an investigator! I've never seen anyone seek for truth from God with such genuine intent. I've been teaching this family since I first arrived here, and have grown to love them in the deepest way. This week, my companion and I (and a couple of the members of our ward) decided we'd go by to visit them to check up on them and share a gospel message. We ended up taking the longest detour ever and got slightly because we decided to walk, when we easily could've taken a tricycle over and gotten there in 10 minutes flat. When we finally got to our destination, the roads were shut down and fire trucks were everywhere. 

Cristine Roco's house burned down. I tried calling, and there was no answer. The next day, we came back in search of them, and found them and a few other families( whose houses were demolished by the fire) sleeping on a basketball court. When I saw Rose Roco (Cristine's mom) she looked at me with tears and told me that they'd lost everything. I wanted to cry out of relief because they were all okay, but also sadness because of the state they were in. Cristine told me she was so upset that her bible and book of mormon were burned - she tried running back inside for them but the firefighters wouldn't let her back in! She has such a strong love for God's word! My companion and I immediately went back to the house, and I collected bags of things I could to give to them. We texted members and our mission leaders in search of donations and any help they'd be willing to offer, and by the next day, people were already ready to contribute to the cause. The Roco family, and the others that were there, were so grateful for the help. Their family has grown closer, and they have so much more time to laugh and talk together. They were keeping such a positive really was a testimony to me that trials are only trials if you let them be. 

I know that this life is just a test of our faith. I know that it's a time to grow and learn. I know that without bitter pain, we would never experience the sweetness of joy. Trials are made for us. It's not punishment for what we've done wrong, but rather an opportunity to see if we'll do what's right. Pains, trials, and heartache may not go away immediately, but I know that if we rely on God, we can grow strong enough until our burdens seem light. He has not forgotten you, and will never forget you. He hears your prayers. He knows you and what you can get through - and I know He knows you well enough to push you towards your fullest potential... so stop trying to fight the growing pains. just GROW. 

I love you all, and I pray that you look at your life in the most positive light. See the blessings you have, and every trial you have should be counted in the blessing pile...because that's really what they are. Trials = blessings in disguise. 

Here are a couple of photos of me with some of the kids a couple days after the evacuation, the results of the fire, some of the cool ward missionaires/members/kids in my ward, my old companion (Sister Livermore) annnnnd whatever else I decided to include haha. 

You're in my prayers always.

- Sister Calica

Monday, February 22, 2016

This week, on the island...*cue theme music*

Hey Mahallies! 

Good news: I've officially finished my 12 weeks as a trainee! *throws cap in the air as graduation music plays*
Not-so-good news: Today's transfer day...and president Tye just called to tell us that my companion is getting transferred to Molino to serve as a Sister Training Leader(basically is in charge/checks up on all of the sister missionaries in a certain area). I couldn't be more devastated. Sister Livermore is everything and more I've ever wanted in a companion. She's hard working, full of the spirit, and serves EVERYONE without being asked. I've learned so much from her example, and this area did a complete 180 for the best when she got here because we worked like workhorses together, and the spirit was so strong! I understand why she had to go (she's just too amazing to keep to myself) but...I'm just going to miss her like crazy. But I'm not worried - we're called to where the Lord needs us, and I'm grateful for the time we had together. 

This last week, I'd caught a slight fever. Staying in was an option...but so much work had to be done! I didn't feel it necessary to stay in and sleep all day, so we ended up going out and working...and I felt like this week was one of the most rewarding weeks of my mission so far because i pushed myself to do God's work. 

I wish you could all see the progress the people here are making. Faith in Christ and His gospel changes lives. 

The day I wanted to stay in the most, we pushed forward and taught a 14 year old girl named Charisse. Her brother is a recent convert. He the only person in his family who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and he is preparing to serve a mission! He sat in for the lesson with Charisse, and bore his testimony to his little sister about the truth and happiness he's found in this gospel. At the end of the lesson, I extended an invitation for her to be baptized...and she was super excited and said absolutely! I hope I didn't creep her out, haha because I was beaming from ear to ear. Every pain in my body completely vanished because I was SO happy for her decision to trust in God, and take such a huge step closer to Him! 

We visited sister Olba on her birthday. She'd been sick for a while, and got a priesthood blessing and was so filled with the spirit she literally cried! It was such a blessing to see her heart softened. She'd been committing to come to church for months, but always found a reason not to...and on sunday she FINALLY WENT TO CHURCH! The moment i walked in and saw her in the congregation, i basically flew at my companion with the most epic high five ever. I couldn't be happier to watch these people progress!

Anyways, these people mean so much to me. They are so extremely special, and I have grown to love them SO MUCH! I want, more than anything, to give them my full heart, might, mind, and strength as I serve them. I know that there are going to be good days and not so good days...but we just have to give our all...and then push a little bit more, and God will bless us with miracles! Here's a little advice from my dad for the hard days: Sometimes, people have problems because they are making poor choices or doing something wrong. But other times, people are having difficulties because they are doing something right.

We're going to have obstacles from every different direction, but they're to help us grow and better ourselves. Keep pushing forward, and put your trust in God. Don't allow yourself to feel inadequate. He's given you so many talents and gifts - use them to bless your life and others around you and seek to gain more! (If you do feel inadequate - read this: Moroni 10:8-22 and Ether 12:27. We're all different and all have different strengths).

Anyways, I love you guys a ton, so keep your head up and keep pushing forward!

Ingat kayo palagi,

Sister Calica  

Also i ate chicken feet this week. Yup. That happened.
Here's a couple pictures of a parade that happened this week, a happy-un-birthday war between my companion and I and some of the elders, and a ton of pictures with some of the cool people in my ward! 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentines Day, Mahallies!

Happy Valentines Day/Araw ng mga puso/Singles awareness day everyone! I hope all of you couples are enjoying spending time with your significant other....and all you singles are enjoying the buckets of ice cream and chick flicks and tears. LOL just kidding. Don't worry, if not having anyone on valentines day makes you sad, just one loves you any other day of the year either. HAHAHAHA JUST KIDDING YOU ARE LOVED! I LOVE YOU! YOU'RE A STRONG, BEAUTIFUL, INDEPENDENT, CHILD OF GOD!

If you were wondering how my valentines day went....someone referred to me as "honey calica" and one of my investigator(person i'm teaching)'s friends called me cute and tried to lay the moves on my by asking me for a kiss. He's nine. hahaha
But really, I've seen God's love so prevalent in my life this week. The tender mercies he sends never ceases to astound me. One of our tricycle drivers stopped us on the road to give us a ride home after a long day, and gave us a TON of mangoes he said he'd picked for us. He gave me and my companion the opportunity to sing for an older bed-ridden woman to provide her with a little comfort, and she was so grateful, she could hardly speak, but kept thanking us with every little breath she had in her old body. My companion was down to 20 pesos, and was pretty sure we would have to walk all the way home...but 2 tricycle drivers in a row gave us free rides without us asking. Our investigators were busy, so we ended up having to knock doors and he provided us with people who were so ready and willing to accept the gospel - they accepted a baptismal date in March! There are SO many blessings He's given me - i cannot deny His love.

He's provided me, and so many of you, with opportunities to be happy. Too often in life, we're quick to look over those opportunities and blessings, and choose to focus on how much we lack or base our happiness on comparison of other's. But it's just another temptation. "The temptation is to focus on the trials we are facing instead of on the savior and our testimony of truth."

How selfish it is, to assume that God hasn't blessed you with enough to be happy. Or to be ungrateful enough to ONLY focus on the one thing that's wrong rather than the million things that are going right in our lives. If you feel there really is a void, I'd like to challenge you to reevaluate who and what you're filling your life with, and if it's really good for you. "We cannot achieve lasting happiness by pursuing the wrong things. You can never get enough of what you don't need, because what you don't need won't satisfy you." 

But seek good things, and seek to see the good in others. Reflect a Christlike love, and try to see others as children of God. Maybe then, you'd find a little more patience within yourself for the bad driver or the waiter who got your order wrong. or for yourself. Knowing who you are changes what you do.
The most important people in this whole galaxy(and beyond) love and care for you. And they know you by name. They know every single problem and struggle you've ever been through in your life. the Holy Ghost loves you enough to comfort you and guide you when you're feeling lost. Jesus Christ loves you so much, He suffered for every sin and pain we'd ever feel, so we'd never have to go through anything alone. Heavenly Father loves you so much, he created a plan for you to return to him, and gave us His only begotten Son.
I know that you're special, and that you're loved, so please be happy because there are SO many beautiful blessings you've been given!
 I love you, and I pray for you always.
Happy Valentines, Mahallies 😘
- Sister Calica
Here's a pic of me stuffing my face, a couple of the cute little kids in my ward eating valentines donuts, and the young women πŸ’Ÿ

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Week 11: Helping people get to heaven

Anong Balita, Mahallies? know my subject line makes it sound like i'm a mass murderer...but it rhymed so i figured you'd all be okay with it lol

(I didn't write last week) These last two weeks have been full of laughs πŸ’Ÿ
I'm in LOVE with my companion. She's a hoot ahaha. Sister Livermore is awesome at speaking tagalog...but (being the focused missionary that she is) has mainly studied words she could use at a grocery store, during gospel lessons, or when asking directions. So earlier this week, we decided to visit one of our investigators (she's 70+). she was sitting on a chair and everyone was wearing masks when we came in to see her. our investigator told us she was busy and that we should leave because she had to "tae", but my companion (being the friendly person she is) kept talking to her because she didn't know what the word meant. What i'm basically trying to tell you is that "tae" is poop and my companion had a full fledged conversation with a 70+ woman mid-poop and it was the most hilarious thing i've ever watched. 

In other news, I got really confidently artistic with my tagalog during one of our lessons this week. I told one of the families we've been teaching that "the church isn't for perfect people, it's for people who have aching hearts" ...but apparently literal translation of "aching heart" isn't a saying here and "sakit sa puso" actually means "heart attack". SOOOOO the church is made for people who have heart attacks. thank you, tagalog hahahaha 

On a spiritual note, Lately, I've been thinking about who I am and the type of missionary I want to become...obviously, i want to become one that can ACTUALLY speak the language and bring the spirit to people's homes...but I've come to realize that there are many instances in life where we just go where life takes us and are content with where we end up. But...the thing is, if you have no goals, you're going to look back in life and realize you never REALLY stretched yourself and never actually worked to achieve your full potential. 

So for my personal study this week, I studied about having "real intent". It made me question the decisions i've made in my life...Why do we do the things we do? Why do we do good deeds? Is it just because others see us, and we get a gold star or a pat on the back every time we do? What is the REAL motive behind it all? We have to make the most out of our lives. God didn't give us agency to choose so we could be ACTED UPON. we are meant to ACT & to make meaningful, purpose-filled decisions to help us grow into someone more Christlike. Don't let our actions today  hinder what God can use us for tomorrow. When we strive to align our will with God's, it makes us SO much happier to choose to do what He would have us do. We could never be perfect in this world...but we can be worthy. 

So as a missionary, I've committed to do my best, because this life is God's test. When I fail to do my part, I'm robbing other people of happiness and potentially robbing them of their opportunity to get to know God. If I'm not worthy of my calling, I'm not worthy of the blessings that come from it either. and there is SO much joy that comes from being out here - it'd be a shame to waste it all. 

I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. I know they love and know each of you personally. I know that this gospel is true, and it makes me INCREDIBLY happy to be out here sharing it. 

I love you guys, and I hope you're growing closer to God everyday. Hope to hear from you soon. 

All the love, 

Sister Calica😘

here's a picture of me eating chicken intestines lol and one with the little loves of my life πŸ˜