I have been called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines Cauayan Mission. This blog is managed by my parents. If you would like to contact them, you can email at lindalarson1598@gmail.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving S/Os & The Forbidden Chocolate Milk

I have been here in the Philippines for a month now and each week goes by quicker than the last. The more time I spend here, the more I realize how many blessings I have had in my life that I sometimes take for granted. So with Thanksgiving coming up this week, there are a few people back at the Grove I wanted to give shoutouts to: First off, to Jeffrey, Emily and Zack, who have displayed devout friendship each week. P Day wouldn't be the same without them! Leo and zackBEtweetin are some of the biggest studs around for sure and Em is just my homegirl and I'm so excited for her because she put in her mission papers this week! Also, S/O to Hayden and Tessa, who recently made 'first contact' (look at me and these missionary terms). It is good to hear from y'all. Much love!  Next, out of all the horses on the farm, there are none who make me LOL harder than the Meat Grinder. Or, in terms that are actually understandable, Braden King is the funniest guy I know. Hopefully I'm not mistaken, but I think it's Jessica's birthday this week, so have a good one Jess!

I'm so thankful for all my friends on missions and the examples they gave to me. I know they are all killing it in various places all over the world. Also for the rest of the gang back at home as well. And finally, to my loving family and all they have done for me. Specifically my mother and all the hard work she has done!
I'm a little late, but congratulations to the PGHS volleyball team for taking state. I miss cheering at those games and I like to think I helped plant a seed of greatness in our fan section. Basketball should be about ready to start, so to Ry Guy, Charles, Matt, and the rest of the squad-go out and have a killer year. I love you guys!
As for this week in the field, I have my first good story with the language. We were teaching the Word of Wisdom to Angelo, Jessica, and Dexter (Jamil was absent) and I was telling them that we need to refrain from coffee because it is harmful for our bodies. Well when I thought I was talking about coffee, apparently I was referring to 'morning drinks'. So when I asked them if they had any problems with this and was committing them to live the Word of the Wisdom, they were confused because they thought they had to give up drinking chocolate milk for breakfast. My companion had to correct me but it was pretty funny.
Lastly, I want to talk about a tatay (what every elderly man is called) named Amado. We have visited him three times, and each time, a basic summary is that he tries to argue anything we try to teach. After each visit, I find myself thinking of Riley and 'crazy old Maurice'. Elder Merza says teaching tatay Amado makes him happy but I usually just get discouraged. However, there is something positive I take from these experiences. When I testify of something, whether he agrees or not, I receive a confirmation inside for myself that I know that what I am saying is true. It makes my testimony stronger and I am filled with joy that I know the truth. I don't know where I would be without the gospel in my life. The church is true. I don't have a doubt about it in my mind. 
The people here in the Philippines don't have a lot. But what they have, they cherish. And they are so happy. They are so loving. So as everyone is hammering down the turkey and watching football this Thursday, let us all remember how blessed we are, and let us give thanks every day and not only on this holiday. Thank you all for everything!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chapter 1 Spark Notes

I have many random, different things to say for this week, but not anything that made me think of a good title. Last week, regarding the members, I forgot to mention a few things. One of my favorite things is the dinner appointments! It is awesome spending time with them and the food is usually really good. And my diet when we are at the apartment is limited basically to cereal, bread and peanut butter, noodles, tuna, and rice. Also, as Gordon B. Hinckley said, "It is essential for a new member to have three things. The first is a friend." Even when the missionaries aren't there, everyone can be a friend and an example.

My mom asked me to lay out a typical day and week. Each day we wake up at 6:30 and prepare for the day. At 8:00, we have an hour of personal study, followed by an hour of companion study, and finally an hour of language study (except on Fridays we plan for the week). Normally, we go out to proselyte at about 1:00. There are many less actives and investigators we have to visit, but usually a lot of them are not home or busy. We return from our teaching around 8-9 and eat dinner if we didn't have an appointment, have more personal time, etc; and we go to bed at 10:30. This was difficult for me to adjust to because I was used to going to bed at like 1 A.M at home haha. Tuesdays we have district meetings, Sundays we have church at 8:30 and Monday is our P Day. There are two little cities (called Barangays) in our area so we visit the people in one every other day.
I haven't asked anyone yet, but I'm fairly certain that everyone's favorite song here is 'Just Give Me A Reason'. Everyone is always singing that. And as overplayed as Blurred Lines was in America, I actually hadn't heard that for two months. But that came to an end this last week. Also, the Christmas music has come into affect here so we are starting to hear that. It is unlikely, but if I hear Christmas Shoes ever come on while I'm here, I will probably cry with joy.
Last Monday, we had to do a split because an elder (Paloma) had the chicken pox.
So while my companion and his comp (Heumann) went out, I stayed at the apartment. Because Paloma has the chicken pox, they received some mission approved movies so I was able to renew my Disney love and watch Monsters University. I thought it was a great movie so I was very happy.
Often times when I meet a Filipino for the first time and we have already distinguished the fact that I am half-American, they then try to guess what my other half is. Usually it is Korean, Chinese, Filipino in that order, but never Japanese haha. After that, they proceed to ask me a question about Naruto, because they assume I like it, but to be honest I don't know at all what they are referring to!
This last week, I taught a large multitude of kids the hand-clapping game of 'Double Double This This' and they really seemed to like it. They often also request for me to lift them up and hang them upside-down so whenever there's lots of small children around, it is usually a ruckus!
Also on Wednesday, we got to go to the mission home for a trainers meeting. It was great seeing everyone from our MTC batch and be able to relate on our experiences and observances thus far in the Philippines. It is nice knowing that I'm not the only one who doesn't really speak Tagalog haha. 
About once a week we get to 'eat out' at McDonalds or something, and that is basically treasure here. Oh what I would do for Taco Bell or Costa Vida right now! But as crazy and different as things are, I love it here so much and you couldn't pay me to leave (for 2 years anyways). I am so blessed to have this opportunity to share this wonderful gospel with the people of the Philippines and help bring them unto Christ. I love the people, and I can't express it enough, but I love all of you so much as well. Until next week!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Every Member a Missionary

I never really realized the importance of this statement until I was actually on a mission myself. I mentioned Angelo and Jessica last week, but two other investigators we have are Jamil (10 years old) and Dexter (9) who are brothers. All four of them live close together so we are able to teach them all together at Jamil and Dexter's home. The four of them have made very good progression and we are about ready to set baptismal dates with all of them. However, our success would be much more difficult without the help of the members. Jamil and Dexter's older brother Jordan has his mission call to Naga and he has helped us throughout this process so much.

The ward here is awesome and the church is strong in this nice little community. They treat us missionaries so well and that makes our job so much easier! Whether it be through fellowshipping, referrals, or whatever else, a lot of our success comes through the help of the members. We don't have to be on an actual mission to set an example for others and when everyone is involved, the hastening of the work improves rapidly.
Many have asked about the big typhoon that hit the Philippines. Our area was not affected too much by the storm because it hit pretty far away from us. All we got was some extra rainfall, but it is so comforting to know of the support and concern I have back at home. However, from what I have heard, there has been some significant damage at the places that it did hit so be praying for the welfare of those who felt the effect.
We had zone conference this week with the area seventy Elder Nielsen, and that went well! He and his wife gave great counsel to us. I don't have much else to say for this week, but the ability of the magnificent taxi van continues to impress me. The passenger capacity record is now at 24. I heard Bubble Butt as we were walking to church so that was pretty funny. What I am realizing when I hear American pop songs from a few years ago is of all the different memories I have associated with all these songs! Anyways, keep those affected by the typhoon in your prayers. I love you all!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Jafar's Counsel

"Patience, Iago, patience." If you know me well, you should know that I am an avid fan of Disney and although this quote was given by a villainous character, I think it's an aspect that Heavenly Father has wanted me to work on early in my mission-with the language, the culture, the work, my teachings, my companion-Everything. I wish that there was a magical way for me to be fluent in Tagalog but unfortunately that is not the case. As frustrated as I can sometimes get, I know that it is going to take a lot of diligence, patience, and time. I still can't really understand what people are saying, but on the bright side, as we are teaching, I am beginning to be able to introduce principles during our lessons, rather than just bear my testimony at the end of it.
We hadn't been having too much success in our work at the beginning. I just wish everyone could see the importance and beauty of our message that this gospel can share with them. However, like Kaseem when entering the Cave of Wonder, there will be some people that are not yet ready to accept what we have to offer. For those people, we must do what we can to plant the seed for them. And then as we press forward with faith and hard work, we will be able to find those Aladdins in our investigators. We will be able to find our diamonds in the rough. Angelo (13 years old) and Jessica (11) are two of the main investigators we have been working with and I have high hopes for them to be some of those diamonds. They are very bright and I think they are moving in the right direction towards becoming baptized. Both were able to attend church yesterday and we have taught multiple lessons to them.
Just a quick update in regards to last weeks email: American Songs of the Week-Shots (turn up?), Roar, and Wrecking Ball (I was kind of surprised because if I remember correctly these were only starting to get popular as I was leaving). The record for passengers in the taxi-van (which is probably a little smaller than the size of the one Sawyer drove) is now 22. That is going to be tough to beat.
Before I close, we have another segment on Stories With Drunk People. So the other day we were walking along the road and we pass by this big birthday party going on in someone's front yard. As we approach, they insist on having us join them and us sitting down to eat. They were going super hard on the karaoke machine and as it turns out, most of them were drinking beer, but the food was great and it was a good time haha.
I have only scripture referenced from Jafar thusfar so if you want a scripture about patience from the Book of Mormon, Alma 34:40-41 should do the trick. But going along with this week's theme of Disney--If you go look up the lyrics of 'Go The Distance' and think of it from the perspective of a missionary, it's really pretty incredible. Well that's it for this week! Ingit ka mga kaibigan ko!