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! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Halfway there.

Mahallies - the 14th made it official...I'm nine months closer to seeing all of you again! I'm halfway there! It's the most bittersweet feeling. I'm so excited to see you all, but simultaneously, the idea of leaving the Philippines and all these people I've learned to love breaks me. I feel like there are too many people I still have to meet, and countless people that need the relief and joy that comes from this gospel, and gaining a stronger relationship with God.

This week was more than amazing, Mahallies. Aha, and I realize, I probably say that every week...but that's just because the blessings are pouring at such an overwhelming rate, I can't help but stand in awe! 

I got to witness Maria (12) and Nina(14) Ellis, two of our investigators, get baptized this week! Watching them enter into the water was the most rewarding feeling because even though there were push backs and obstacles, I knew that they were ready and willing to take the name of Jesus Christ upon them and be washed of their sins. I could see how much they had grown in the gospel. Their love for reading the scriptures developed rapidly, and as they continued to read, their commitment to follow the commandments grew stronger. The Book of Mormon is a book with a promise - anyone who reads it with the intent to learn and to grow spiritually, and not simply to fault-find, will find themselves closer to God and showered with answers to some of life's most daunting questions. 

I knew, watching them get baptized was only the start of their journey. People are to be baptized when they are 8 and older, because at the age of 8, we are aware of good and bad and are capable of making decisions knowledgeably for ourselves. We believe that all men are responsible for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression. Although Adam's Transgression impacted us all by making us mortal and capable of death, through Jesus Christ's Atonement, we will all be able to live again, as He did. He is Risen, and has overpowered the grave. (2 Nephi 2)

Being able to be an instrument in God's hands is amazing, because as such, I am able to witness so many miracles. One was watching Maria and Nina's testimony of the Book of Mormon grow. I struggled with my own testimony of the Book of Mormon, believing my testimony wasn't strong enough because I had yet to finish it...but when I finally did, I realized something. There is a great sense of joy, relief, and achievement from finishing reading the scriptures...but you don't have to finish the whole thing to know that you have a testimony of it. (Let me clarify, this is not me suggesting NOT to finish reading) But all throughout, the spirit speaks to you, and little by little, helps strengthen your testimony. You don't have to finish it to know it's true - because you can see it every step of the way. Just as Christ is with us in life...He doesn't wait until the last day to prove to us of His existence. He is with us every step, revealing Himself in the most tender mercies or the smallest acts of kindness. 

Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. Don't be so quick to believe the thundering voice of the adversary when he tries to convince you your spiritual experiences aren't worth anything - be aware, and heed, the spirit's small promptings. I encourage and invite you, if you haven't already, to read the Book of Mormon, and to pray about it, and be aware of the Spirit. I promise that as you do so, promptings will come more frequently, and your relationship with the Spirit will strengthen. Your ability to choose right from wrong will also increase. I know these things to be true, from the very bottom of my soul. I know that you are loved and extremely special to our Father in Heaven. I leave my testimony and my love with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.       

Monday, July 11, 2016

Smiles on high

It's been a week of miracles, Mahallies. 
A typhoon has been headed towards Taiwan, but despite the increase in rain, the smiles haven't stopped shinning! 😁

I really can't contain myself, so I'm just gonna tell you the best news first! MY LITTLE SISTER IS GOING ON A MISSION TO SERVE THE LORD. 

Sabrina Calica has been CALLED TO SERVE in the NORTH DAKOTA BISMARCK MISSION!👏👌👍🙌🙆👼 

I'd been waiting all week to watch the video of her opening her mission call, and honestly it was torture to wait! Even some of my friends out here in the Philippines found out where she was serving before me...and as soon as she showed me the video this morning, I broke down in tears (side note- don't do this in a public computer shop, it makes you look crazy) because I AM SO PROUD OF HER! I'm sitting her gushing with gratitude and appreciation for her courage to serve! ahahaha so all of you should go congratulate the NEW (and def. improved) SISTER CALICA 2.O

In other news, remember that baptism of Maria and Nina that didn't go through? We'd been continuing our lessons with them, in hope for a change...and just this week, they got interviewed for baptism and are scheduled to enter into the water this upcoming Saturday, the 16th! My companion and I were beaming from ear to ear, and our investigators, Maria and Nina, are so excited! They bore their testimonies to me and my companion yesterday, and I felt the sweetest spirit as I listened to them. They are so young, but their love of the gospel is so pure. Haha, Maria even told us that she'd already started to save up for her mission (she literally counted and made sure by age 19, she'd have like a million pesos so nothing could keep her from serving)! 

This week, I also met our new mission president & his wife, President and Sister Spiers. As he and his wife bore their testimonies to all the missionaries, something he said really stood out to me: "Eventually, we all have to question if our service was acceptable to the Lord". This statement doesn't just apply to missionaries, but to all of you as well. At the end of your lives, you have to question if the choices you made and the way you treated people were up to the standard He would have for you.So this last week, I'd been trying, at the end of every day, to pray and tell Heavenly Father of my day, and ask him if my work was acceptable. I invite you all to try asking Him for yourselves. For me, the answer was made known almost immediately - if you feel any ounce of shame or timidness while doing so, changes need to be made now. But that's why we have to do it everyday! To acknowledge that there is still room for growth. Prayer was never meant to be one way - it's supposed to be a conversation. So don't rush the spirit. Ask questions, not just for blessings, and then wait for answers. Because answers will come. Maybe not immediately, maybe not while you're down on your knees and feel you need it most - but in His time.

It may be discouraging to see that, despite our best efforts, we still feel unworthy or imperfect. But mistakes are no reason to stop trying. The best life we all knew never stopped. Despite the temptations and trials that came His way, He never stopped pushing forward.
"He was willing to live every day without making a single sin". Jesus Christ, our Brother and Savior, made it very clear that with God, anything is possible. So push to be more like Him, and love Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father enough to try our best and stay away from sin. The speed doesn't matter - so don't compare. We're all different, and comparison is the thief of joy. But do push forward in the right direction, because eventually, even if it's by baby steps, you'll get there with His help. 

I have such a tremendous love for this gospel and the opportunity to be called to share it. I know that the Book of Mormon and the Bible work hand in hand, and are the word of God. These sacred accounts have been written for our day, and the messages within can still be applied to our daily lives. I know that these books are like maps to guide us through the maze of life. I know that the Spirit is strong and will enter into your hearts if you allow it to do so, that Jesus Christ is our loving and has experienced all of our pains, and that Heavenly Father loves us unconditionally and knows what we need more than we do for ourselves. 

Thank you for allowing me to share my testimony with you of these sacred teachings I hold so dear to my heart. I appreciate and love you, and leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

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Here's a picture of me and my buds (Sister McBride, Elder Cook, Elder FanguFangu) with our new Mission President, Sister Beltran (My current comp.) and Sister McBride, The streets of San Pedro, and A PICTURE OF YOUR TWO (favorite) MISSIONARIES: Sister Calica #1 and Sister Calica 2.0!!! 

Monday, July 4, 2016


Hope you're all waving flags around, having bbqs, giving thanks to God and our forefathers, and feeling real independent, hahaha.

I'm sorry for skipping out on emails, but here are some highlights from the last week:
1. I got peed on by a little 3 year old boy named Sky.
2. MY FAMILY SENT ME SOME LOVE & "SAM JOSE" (and rat traps)!!!
3. My pet rat, Mouse, has gotten EVEN smarter (and pushed aside the home-sent rat traps)
4. We had a brown out and had to heat up our chicken nuggets over a candle 

I cannot tell you how loved I felt this week, and I hope this week has been equally as wonderful for you.

So yesterday was Sunday, and Sundays are always really full of anxiousness, because we get to see if our hard work all week inspired anyone enough to come to church. Having no one show up is always really discouraging...because all you want for those people you teach is for them to be happy and gain happiness through a stronger relationship with God...but the adversary's influence is very persuasive, and gives people TONS of reasons to forget God. When 9:00 rolled around, and none of our investigators had shown up, my heart sank...but we didn't give up hope. My companion and I prayed earnestly together, and continued to do so during sacrament, that Heavenly Father would somehow inspire our investigators to come. And, to my amazement, at the end of sacrament meeting, nearly ALL of the investigators we'd been praying for showed up! 

I know, for those of you back at home, this happening might not seem like much...but to me, it was a miracle. And I know that Our God is a God of Miracles. This experience was a powerful testimony builder to me of the importance of hope. The connotation of "hope" in the modern world is equivalent to "maybe something will happen"  with a strong sense of uncertainty. But "hope" in the scriptures is FIRM. It is not doubting, but expecting that if we do our part, Heavenly Father will do His. 

Hope is meant to conquer discouragement.

I have hope that we can all have faith in Heavenly Father and in His son, Jesus Christ. I have hope that with Their divine help and our best efforts, we can be better and become more of the people They'd want us to be. For those without hope, I offer this as encouragement: We are all sons and daughters of The Most High. We have divine worth and divine capabilities. Have hope and trust in God. Our situations may not always seem good, but if we trust in Them, it will ALWAYS work out for our good.

In the first verse of the Book of Mormon begins a story of a boy named Nephi. This verse goes on to explain that despite having seen "many afflictions" in his days, he was highly favored of the Lord. What makes Nephi so special? In 1 Nephi 3:6 it says "Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord because thou hast not murmured"

As I read this verse, it dawned on me how big of a difference something as little as not complaining could make. We'll do the right things, sure. We'll follow what our parents have asked us to do and do what's expected of us...but how many of us do it without muttering under our breath? 
But then we think of Christ as He was giving His life for us...and instead of complaining of the pain and hurt He was going though as people scorned and spat at him, He asked His Father to forgive His brothers and sisters of their sins because he loved us and His Heavenly Father more than he loved himself. Murmuring is selfish. We're more focused on what we want than what God wants. 
A secret to life: we'll never be happy, we'll never be satisfied, unless we learn to count our blessings. We have so many. The commandments God has given are blessings as well, and as soon as we learn to obey because we LOVE Heavenly Father and not because it's our duty, we'll see our lives change.

I invite you all to have hope, and trust God without murmuring. 

I send with you my most genuine prayers and love,

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