Monday, February 25, 2013


Pamily that I love!

And then there were two. I can hardly imagine what our house is like right now… for as long as I can remember there were kids and lots of noise. Between all five of us and our friends, soccer teams, YW groups, YM groups, basketball teams dance groups and everything in between; having only two kids at home will be a big change. But, after all the parties you have hosted, and the lbs and lbs of dads special chocolate chip mix that have been consumed over the years, I think you deserve a break.

We had a wonderful week! Crisanto was baptized!! It was perfect. We got there and the font was filled and the water was not dark brown and he was right on time. We taught one of our other investigators and her children (the padyak picture) at the church before the baptism so they were able to stay and watch - which was wonderful. I think it was neat for them to actually witness what could happen to them if they keep going on the path they are on. After Crisanto was baptized he bore his testimony and could barely speak due to choking on his tears. The spirit was strong and tangible. He is solid, especially for only being 18 years old. He wants to start filling out his mission papers right now so that as soon as he hits his one year mark of membership he can submit his papers and head out into the mission field. It is inspiring to see such devotion to our Savior in a new convert.

On Sunday I was the surprise speaker in church because someone didn’t show up. I have learned to carry the Liahona General Conference edition with me on Sundays just in case that happens and I can have the material to throw together a talk. I jumbled together a couple different talks and spoke about the Holy Ghost, which I felt was timely seeing as Crisanto received the Holy Ghost in sacrament meeting. I felt the spirit so strongly as I was bearing my testimony about the Holy Ghost in my life. I am grateful for the way the mission has allowed me to come to understand the promptings of the spirit after those first few exceptionally difficult weeks in the field when I spent what felt like hours on my knees at night praying for strength. Those difficult weeks turned to overwhelming joy and warmth the first time I extended a baptismal commitment, saying the words “will you be baptized by the proper authority of God.” Each time we recite Joseph Smith’s first vision I feel that same burning confirmation as the Holy Ghost directly touches my life. How grateful I am that we have that gift with us if we will only seek for Him.

We had Zone Conference this week and it was combined with the Naga Zone. At 5 am we all piled into a Jeenpney and started off on the 2 hour winding drive to Naga. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before but driving here perfectly resembles the way the night bus in Harry Potter drives; weaving in and out of traffic and I think they can even shrink sizes to fit between cars. Zone conference was wonderful and exciting. As always, President Bliesner inspired us to be better. We are really focusing on finding new investigators through the members. I have come to realize how important member missionary work is. The members take the role of a friend rather than a teacher and the lessons are more effective when the investigators don’t feel that they are listening to a presentation. Missionaries come and go out of wards but the members are always there and it is so important that everyone has a friend at church. I feel like our obligation to share what we know is part of the promise that we are renewing each week as we take into our bodies the emblems of the perfect teacher and missionary.

My relationship with the members here is getting stronger and stronger and I have worked to strengthen those relationships. We have a goal to teach every active family at least once and teach them about missionary work and challenge them to think of one friend or family that they can share the gospel with. I also want to plan a big Easter open house at the church for people to bring investigators and show them the church and who we are. We presented it yesterday to the ward leaders and they seemed excited about it but it is still just a maybe.

They are splitting our mission in July. The Naga mission will be in the north and the Legazpi mission will be in the south. Crazy! My last area and the area I am in now will be in 2 different missions starting in July!

The transfer on June 6th will decide which mission we are in. The irony of that is that I went into the MTC on June 6th last year. I could be starting a new mission on June 6th.
The New Philippines Naga Mission President

L. Barry Reeder (55) and Sharon L. Reeder (53) from Perry, Utah. President Reeder is the Owner and President of Brigham Distributing in Brigham City, Utah, a wholesale distributor of books. He is a former counselor in the Stake Presidency, Bishop, High Counselor, Stake and Ward Young Men President. He is currently serving as a ward missionary in the Perry 6th Ward. He served in the Hong Kong Mission from 1976-1978. He graduated from BYU in Accounting.

President Reeder said “The missionaries will love my wife because she is the fun one. I am just a simple farm boy.”

The New Philippines Legaspi Mission President

Jovencio A. Guanzon (61) from Manila, Philippines and has served as an area seventy since 2007. He is an amazing teacher and experienced church leader (and he speaks fluent Tagalog and English!).
Rope Bridge to our Investigators House
In either March or April I believe I will be training a new American missionary. I am excited and nervous to get an American comp because there will not be a native to fall back on with the language. I can hold my own in lessons but there are still moments when I really have no clue what they are saying and I have always had a comp that understands. Two white Americans will get sooooooo much attention  haha. If she likes to run - that would be a dream come true!

Our neighboring house is full of traveling massage sales people. We wash our clothes behind our house and they do too. This morning I had a group of about 14 faces peering out of their back door playing a game of 20 questions with me. Haha they are fascinated by the white girl that can jumble along in Tagalog. I thought I would get used to it but it still surprises me how excited they are to see a white face.

 I am glad you got the Speen off and running. If you haven’t heard from him it is because his P-day isn’t until Monday or Tuesday.  That is good that he was so excited to get going.
I laughed way hard at Megs’ story about fumbling with the language!  I know exactly how she feels and that was my experience too. They only speak to you in your new language and you have NO CLUE what is going on and then they tell you to teach haha. I think they have the gift of tongues more than we do because they can piece together what we were saying.

I got some fudge in the mail this week from grandma with a random assortment of candy. It was so great! I love her - she is a sweetheart. She is going to have her hands full writing all these missionaries.

Well, love you all hope you are not freezing to death!
xoxox from the Pines,

Sister C

Monday, February 18, 2013

Good Luck Speen!


Well, two kids in name tags and one to go. I feel like I was just reading about them opening their calls yesterday and now they are off and ready to teach and preach and work as missionaries do.

We had a wonderful week! Things are going great here. The time is going so fast and my companion and I are working well together. We have taught over 30 lessons each week we have been together and we have been able to find a big group of new investigators. The area is definitely prepared!  We are excited for a baptism this Saturday and we have zone conference on Wednesday!  So it is a busy and fun week.

The set up of the missions in the Philippines is inspired. We don’t tract but we are always talking to everyone about the gospel and a lot of the investigators come from referrals or part member families. We were at our investigator family’s home earlier this week but two of the kids were not home yet. We were sitting outside their small bamboo home on a fallen tree log and I was talking to the 17 year old, Jezrell. There are always kids running around in their area and I was asking if there were kids his age. We talked for a while and then he got up to go somewhere. It was starting to get dark and sister Abarabar sat talking in the twilight when a group of teenage boys started walking towards us…. Jezrell had rounded up all his pals to come listen to us. We both looked at each other and tried to stifle our laughs as 5 teenage boys sat down to hear the message of the restored gospel. We taught, they listened and I don’t know if they will be receptive but as I listened to our young investigator bare a simple and plain testimony of the gospel to his friends I was filled with joy.

Later that night we were teaching Jezrell’s older brother Crisanto – his baptismal interview was on Saturday and we were going over the questions he would be asked. He was nervous and felt like he needed to have memorized perfect answers. We would explain the questions and review the principles but he kept getting flustered. At the end we asked him to bare a short testimony of why he wants to be baptized. He was quiet for a few moments and when he finally spoke his voice was quiet and filled with honesty. He said when his mom was baptized he didn’t want to listen; he wasn’t interested and didn’t really care. He said this time from the very first lesson it was different. He said from that first lesson he wanted to stop smoking and he knew he wanted to be a part of this. He said he can’t wait for his baptism so he can stand in front of everyone at church and bare his testimony. He got quiet again and tears filled his eyes. He said, I just know it’s true and I am grateful for it……. He did great at his interview and he is the person being baptized on Saturday.

The testimonies of these two young boys have strengthened my own faith. I too know that this church is true. I know that this is the same church Christ established when he was on earth. I know that it is through this gospel that we find happiness and peace. How grateful I am for those first early family members that opened their hearts to the missionaries which brought the gospel into my life.

Thanks for forwarding the pictures of Meg leaving - so fun. I am glad she got her nametag before she left and you guys got to see her in it! I am jealous about that - I won’t lie. Our name tags are in English and it always made me so mad at the MTC when people thought I was English speaking.  I wanted to say, “oh if you only knew the stress I am going through.” Meg’s letter sounded great!

Exciting news for Hannah.  Tell her congrats for me. I saw the pictures Adelide put together - way cute!!!!!!!!

Speen good luck this week! I love you and couldn’t be more proud. Have a blast in the MTC – but not too much of a blast. I loved the MTC. It was so fun being around so many missionaries and the devotionals were incredible. Eat a ton –especially the ice cream on Sundays and the chocolate milk. Those were my favorites. Don’t stress TOO much about the language because it will come but stress just enough that it will push you to work hard and give your best. A special memory I have from the MTC was one day an Elder from Haiti who was assigned to learn Spanish broke down into tears, exclaiming in his thick Haitian accent, “I am not accustomed to learning Spanish.” A big Elder from Tonga who is assigned here in the Pines, stooped down, put his arm around this disheartened elder and said, “Brother I am not accustomed to learning Tagalog, but remember that with God all things are possible.”

Speen, I don’t think you will have cockroaches in your room in Provo but hopefully you can admire their diligence in Mexico. Haha love ya kid!
I love you all and am so grateful for your love and support.

All my love from the Pines,

Sister Meish




Monday, February 11, 2013

Good Luck Meg!

The Beautiful Place Where I Live

My dear missionary family,

Wow, all day I have been thinking that it is Sunday in Salt Lake and that my baby brother and baby sister would be bearing their testimonies at the pulpit before heading out to join the missionary army. I could not be more proud! I feel so grateful and proud to be a part of the “family with three missionaries.” I love you both and am so excited for you to dive into the mission; it is an incredible experience that I am grateful for every day. Speen –I am so glad that you were able to find the silver lining behind the cockroaches that infest our house….. I will be honest it has been over 6 months and I am still looking for that glimmer of worth haha. But thanks for your shout-out in your talk.

We had a great week! We are so busy I honestly feel that it is always p-day and there is never enough time to get everything done. We are teaching three siblings right now. There mom and older brother were baptized years ago but the other kids never showed much interest. The oldest of the three is Crisanto. I think I talked about him in my letter a few weeks ago. He is so receptive to the gospel. He really wants to serve a mission but what he doesn’t realize the importance of the missionary work he is doing within his family right now. He brings his younger two siblings to church every week. One of them is 11 and the other little boy is 5. We started teaching another of their siblings this past week as well and he is 17. I could not believe he wanted us to teach him; but of course we were thrilled! He has watched his older brother’s excitement about the gospel and has decided to find out about why his 19 year old brother is so willing to make big changes in his life. So yesterday at 1p.m., in rolled all three of them; the middle brother was in shorts, flip flops and a really shiny shirt and had a match in his mouth haha! I wouldn’t have cared if he had borrowed the chicken suit from the guy in the underground in London as long as he was at church (that’s not true, I am glad he was not in a chicken suit but still…).
Family Home Evening

Last night we had an FHE at their house and it was a great success! They don’t have electricity so we brought our big emergency light down to their house and then roped it to the tree and then there were candles everywhere. Sister Abarabar cooked pansit; which is kind of like pasta and we taught about reaching our dreams with God’s help and then we played games. Everyone was smiling and I felt so filled with joy and with love and gratitude for the blessings of the spirit in my life. I was reading a talk by President Eyring and he emphasized the importance of journal writing. He said before he writes, he thinks “did I see the hand of God in my life today?” I feel the love and help of my Savior each day but it is such an incredible thing to watch others feel his light and love in their lives as well. God is in the details of our lives and his loving hand brings us so much joy.

As you know, I am Goliath sized over here; all the houses and people are mini sized but I have become pretty good at watching out for clothes lines and low set roofs. Yesterday I was so focused on serving food to people after the FHE that I forgot about my giantism and smacked my head on the low-set tin roof. Although my focus on serving was the cause of my injury it also kept me from feeling too much pain. Later that night I was brushing out my hair and realized that there was a chunk of dried blood. Luckily it is just a mere flesh wound but I will make sure to be more careful around the tin roofs.
Family Home Evening #2

Happy Valentine week to all of you. On this week I am grateful for your love and support and I am especially grateful for the love of my Savior. I cannot fully comprehend the love he has for us; that he would give his life for us. President Hinckley said that “love is the very essence of life. I am one who believes that love, like faith, is a gift of God.” I too believe that it is a gift of God.  Love has the power to heal and to cure.  I am grateful for the love that the members of the church here show so openly to me, a complete stranger; making me feel at home and erasing my feelings of loneliness.
In this area, the members use Bikol rather than Tagaolog at church. I still feel super lost, but I am recognizing more and more words; which is good. Now when I ask what a word means they answer me in Tagalog and it makes sense - so that is good! I used to ask what Tagalog words meant and they would explain it to me in English.  Progress - but still a long way to go.

Mags, I couldn’t be more proud of you. I know the next few days, months actually, will be a crazy roller coaster, but try to enjoy every minute. I don’t know how the MTC will be in the D.R.; but in Provo they just started shouting out Tagalog to us and it was nuts. Soak it up. I want you to know that I know this is the most important work we could be doing. Each day we get to teach about eternal families. We get to teach about truth and happiness. The people here don’t have much and I am going to guess that in the D.R. and Mexico it will be similar. But we get to play a small role in giving them a pearl of great price. I know the church is true. This is the Church that Jesus Christ organized when he was on earth. Our loving savior will be with us each day if we invite him in. I love you all more than you know. You keep me going. You are in my prayers each and every day. Be safe and know that I love you and am cheering for you from the Pines!! Onward ever onward, you are called to serve a king! How great is your calling!

Love from the Pines,

Sister Meish
My Good Friends - The Ward Missionaries

Monday, February 4, 2013

New Apartment

Hello family dearest,

HAPPY 17TH BIRTHDAY BUG!!!!! What a week it has been. We moved houses!!! Yay. Thank goodness, because the old one just could not hold on any longer. The land lady at our old house was so sad though she got a chair and came and watched with sad droopy eyes as we hauled our things out the front door. She said missionaries had been there for 10 years. We felt bad but were also very excited about living in a non moldy apartment. The elders from our district came and helped us move everything and we rented a jeepney from one of the members so we could take everything over.... it took 4 or 5 trips, I think one trip was filled completely with books, mormons have a lot of books i have discovered. Of course the day we decided to move the weather also decided to pour rain. We were all soaked but it was fun! There is no rain like Filipino rain, I love it!

Old Apartment

Our new apartment is newly renovated and when I say newly I actually mean not finished all the way. They finished up today but for the past 4 days we have been crammed in one room sleeping on the floor and living out of our suitcases. Sleepovers! It was fun but we are grateful to be slowly moving out of our suitcases and putting our things back together.

Our work this week was really great we have been going over time in working with our investigators to try to help them progress and progressing they are! One of them is a middle aged mother of 6 boys. She lives in a house out in the middle of a corn field, they are the only house out there. Her husband works in the city and cant come home very often. She has been an investigator for over a year but hasn’t really been progressing, receptive to the missionaries but not so much to the keeping of commitments. We have been really trying to focus on helping her understand the doctrine and why it is important for her. We had a family home evening with their family and a recent converts family and she had such a good time. At our next lesson she promised she would come to church, she followed through on her word. She was sitting in the relief society room before we even arrived. After Sunday school we climbed the stairs together and sat down together in the chapel. I am so grateful that it was fast and testimony meeting because it was a perfect atmosphere to feel the spirit. I know that this woman was prepared and was on God’s time table to come to church yesterday. As an elderly member stood to be the first to bare his testimony our dear investigator began to weep. The tears didn’t stop falling for the remainder of the meeting. The first man to bare his testimony spoke entirely in Bikol and I am not sure what he said but I can testify that the spirit was strong. After the meeting our I leaned over to me and said she cant explain what she is feeling, it is just wonderful and good. We explained that is the spirit and it is difficult to explain but it is comfortable and almost familiar.

I testify that this is the true church. I know that the spirit talks to each of us individually. Yesterday I understood for maybe the first time in my life why we have fast and testimony meeting, because our conversion is personal and our relationship with God is individual. I am grateful for the strength that the church gives to me – we all have had experiences that are difficult to explain but that are wonderful and are good. These experiences are what define our conversion and ultimately make up who we are.

I feel so grateful to be here and be a small part in helping people remember their relationship with our Heavenly Father. We are so lucky to be members and to know of the truth that is on earth once again. The miles and miles of rice fields, the climbing dirt roads, the small bamboo houses, teaching lessons around burning fires or candles held by empty food cans and constantly being amazed by the miracles of my heavenly father are becoming a part of me and my conversion to His gospel.

Hope you have a wonderful week! Good luck with the farewell.... send me a copy of your talks! I love you and miss you but could not be more proud that you two are joining the army. It is the best job in the world.

Love from the Pines,

Sister Meish