Sunday, September 25, 2016


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 - ). 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.