Monday, April 29, 2013

My Aki

 Sister Farnes
kumusta kayo diyan!?!?!

Hi family!  Well, we made it through the first week together! My new Aki, which is child in Bicol and what we call them because right now they are missionary babies.

On Tuesday Sister Abarabar and I went to Naga early in the morning and she was in the first group of missionaries to get in a van and be sent to a new area. That left me to swivel back and forth on a chair for the next 7 hours. It was a long day but finally the other sisters that were my temporary companions arrived. There were four of us and we stayed in the Naga sisters’ house for the night. We were invited to dinner at a family that lives in the area of the assistants' and then the next morning we cleaned the house (because the elders that previous stayed there didn’t do so great at cleaning).

 Washing Clothes

The next day we headed off to training! It was so fun to see old companions and catch up with all the sisters! Half way through our training one of the Filipina sisters and I left for the mission home and got to meet all the new missionaries. We had about 45 minutes and I talked to all the American’s downstairs while she talked to all the Filipinas upstairs. I told them it doesn’t get easy but it gets better..... Many of them said they found my blog and were reading it every week once they received their calls. It was so fun to be able to answer all their questions. I can hardly believe that it was nearly 12 months ago that I was sitting in their same jet-lagged, nervous but excited shoes starting this crazy adventure. Later that night we all got together and the new companionships were announced. There were 31 missionaries all together that came that day, it was so fun to feel the energy of so many missionaries in one place.


My new Aki is Sister Farnes. She is from Portland Oregon and was studying at BYU before she came on her mission. She is so wonderful and I love her.... and not just because she supports me in getting in a P-day run. Today I ran probably 2 miles and was dying haha; but it felt soo great to get my legs going again. But Sis Farnes is great! She is so willing to try everything, the food and everything about the culture. We are having a great time and I love, love training!!! I hope to train the rest of my mission! They are just so excited and willing to work and it is fun being able to teach them all about mission life.  We also have another American Sister that is under training in our apartment. I am so glad that we are all together in a house so that I can help them figure stuff out. Her trainer is a Filipina

That being said it is a little stressful because I am in charge of everything!  My voice died on me for a few days because of talking so much. Miracle of my life.... it is actually strangely difficult to be speaking so much English. I think I have forgotten how much I didn’t know when I got to the field. You sent me a letter near the start of my mission about how things happen slowly and then suddenly. That is for sure my experience with Tagalog; slowly and then suddenly. I just realized this week that I know this language. It is amazing the way the Lord blesses us to be able to learn a new language. I am so grateful each day that when I open my mouth words come out.


Being around new missionaries is such a renewal of my faith because I know that right now they are so overwhelmed and in the midst of one of the biggest trials of their faith. I remember feeling scared and frightened and like I was treading water with no hope of ever being able to swim forward. But then after time, a lot of work, even more faith, and hours of prayers the Lord blesses you and by some miracle you are able to teach and understand people.

Elder Eyring gave a talk about mountains to climb. We each face different "mountains" that cause us to question our faith or our abilities. But with the Savior's help we are able to overcome all things. "If faith is not embeded in our hearts, our power to endure will crumble.... there is a balm in Gilead and the Lord has promised he will not forsake us." I know that with faith, even if it starts as a small seed, we can overcome all things.


We have Tatay Eddie and Nanay Amata's wedding tomorrow!! Tonight we are having an FHE at one of the members houses who arranges flowers and we are making surprise bouquets for nanay! It will be a wonderful day.
This week we were teaching Crisanto and his family about why the Lord’s way for us is not hard to follow and I asked Crisanto why exactly it isn’t hard to follow the Lord's way. He said that Christ sacrificed for us so sometimes we have to sacrifice too, but it is always worth it.

I am so grateful to be a missionary. I know with all my heart that this gospel is the way to happiness. Thanks for the love and support!!!


love from the pines,

Sister Meish


This was the Mormon message about the President Eyring talk. LOVE IT!



Monday, April 22, 2013

New Chapter

The next chapter begins.  It is once again transfers.  Sister Abarabar is being transferred and I am going to stay in Goa to train.  The big batch of American sisters we have been anticipating since November arrives tomorrow. I am somewhere between very excited and quite nervous that I will now be the language expert in the companionship for the next 3 months.  “Give me mountains to climb!” 

I have been focusing a lot on Faith during my personal study lately. I have been thinking about what creates strong faith and what that faith does for us. What is the importance of faith? President Packer once said, “Faith, to be faith, must center on something that is not known.  It must go beyond that for which there is confirming evidence.  Faith must go into the unknown and must walk to the edge of the light and then a few steps into the darkness.  If everything has to be known, if everything has to be explained, if everything has to be certified, then there is no need for faith.  Indeed, there is no room for it.”

I feel that I am taking a pretty big step into the darkness because I have always had a Filipina companion as a backstop for the language.  I know that we are in the Lords hands though and if I will put my trust in him it will be okay. 

We are teaching a 27 year boy (man?) named Edward.  I call him Edward Cullen and he likes that because he thinks he looks like a vampire.  We have been teaching him for a few weeks now and he is now at the point where he is going to have to take a step into the unknown and test his faith.  He comes from a Catholic family and is very active in the youth group at their church.  He has attended church 4 times now. He enjoys our lessons and the YSA in the ward have done a great job in fellowshipping him.  He has not yet read the book of Mormon on his own though.  As we have been in the last 2 lessons it dawned on me that he may be afraid of what the truth will mean.  He told us that his whole family is Catholic, all his friends are catholic and they are wondering why he is going to a Mormon church.  I realized that if he really reads and prays and gets and answer he will have to abandon everything he has ever known.  He will have to take a giant leap into the unknown.  I am realizing that in order to have strong faith we have to make sacrifices which are generally painful.  When I was training for the marathon, those long runs were pretty painful. But because of the pain it became easier the next time because my muscles were stronger.  When we submit to stretching our faith it is generally uncomfortable, but that makes us stronger for the next time. 

We had a successful baptism on Saturday for Brother Joel! His wife is a member and they were married a few weeks ago.  Joel is a wonderful person who radiates joy and life.  He was in the Marines stationed in the southern part of the Philippines (where I am not allowed to go because of my skin color). He left the marines when his wife got pregnant so that they could focus on their family.  He really struggled with the word of wisdom at first because it was such a big change but he wants to follow Gods plan.  After his baptism he bore his testimony and he firmly stated “I know this is God’s true church.” I was a little taken back because this is the first time I have heard him say these words and I was felt genuine happiness for him. On Sunday morning his wife went into labor and now they have 2 new twin boys! He called to tell us about the babies and then said that he was on his way (making the 2 hour drive ) from the hospital to the church so that he could receive the Holy Ghost.  We assured him he could receive the Holy Ghost the following week but he insisted.  His faith in God’s plan for him is so inspiring and I couldn’t help thinking about how their family is going to benefit because they have a father that is committed to God.

A day in the life: One morning this past week Sis Abarabar was feeling really sick so she slept and I hunkered down over a basin of water to wash my sheets for the first time in a while. It is actually quite difficult to wash sheets because they are so large and we wash them by hand. My hands suffered greatly.  We then spent our lunch hour chasing a rat back and forth from the stove to the fridge.  We have no idea how it got into our house - but after a lot of broom smacking and screaming it finally left.  I then went to take my water bottle from the fridge and a frozen 2 liter water bottle of juice crushed my big toe. It’s not broken - just black and blue.  Don’t fret however; it only hurts when I walk.  Unfortunately, we walk everywhere.  We then spent the day going from house to house and no almost one was home. Those that were home were busy.  It was tough and I wanted to complain but God is so aware of us and we ended the night at the Candelaria’s where 12 year old Jelissa taught her youngest sibling how to pray by whispering in his ear.  It was so tender and reminded me that God is aware of us and waiting to bless us if we will slow down enough to see his loving hand.  Never a boring day in the pines! I am so happy and so grateful to be a part of this work.  I know with all my heart that this is God’s work.  I am grateful for the gospel in my life and ever grateful for the chance to share it with others. 

Because I am training in Goa, I will stay in the Naga mission when the mission is split on July 1st.  That means my Mission President will be the couple from Brigham City. I am excited to meet the new Mission President but can’t believe they are coming so soon.  I remember when I got my call thinking I will have a different Mission President for the last 6 months. Now that is right around the corner - ano ba iyan!!!!

We are leaving for Naga really early in the morning and then we have training (train the trainers) and on Wednesday afternoon we meet with the newbies and have more training. Then Wednesday night we are back to Goa.  

Meg and Speen both sound great.  I heard from both of them this past week.

Hope you all have a good week! I love you all!!

Mahal kita –padaba ko ika,

Sister Meish


Monday, April 15, 2013

Tatay Eddie

Hello family! It’s been a great, sweaty week!! It's hard to believe that we are heading in to the last week of transfers.  Life goes fast, I am pretty sure mission life goes faster. 

Our zone won the recent clean apartment contest and this morning we went to the beach with President and Sister Bliesner and the AP’s.  We played a good game of beach volleyball that lasted about 20 minutes and then we all began to die of heat stroke.  There is just something different about the beach when you are wearing jeans and a t-shirt and are fully aware that there is no chance of entering the beautiful blue water.  One day . . . . .  But it was fun to breathe in the fresh ocean air; the air at the beach just smells and feels different. It’s cleaner.

Last week I mentioned that we spent the day in Naga trying to get the loose ends tied up in order for our cute elderly couple to get married.  Tatay Eddie is our investigator and he is 68 years old.  His soon to be 65 year old bride is the pioneer in Goa, and they are just darling!  Tatay was a tricycle driver when he was younger. He is a simple man. Some elders in our district were telling us about their Investigator who has read the Book of Mormon entirely in Taglog and is working on it in English now.  At each of their meetings he asks very deep doctrinal questions, but he will not pray.  I was thinking about the conversion of this man and how it will never take place, regardless of how intellectual he is because he will not commune with God.  He is looking at the gospel without spiritual eyes and therefore the gospel is just an analytical exercise for him.  Tatay Eddie tells us in each lesson how grateful he is for us because if we weren’t here he wouldn’t know the gospel.  He wouldn’t know he was supposed to be baptized and he wouldn’t know about the priesthood.  He has never argued with us about commitments or praying; he just humbly follows.  He doesn’t ask us deep questions but he sees the truth.  He is willing and wanting to believe in this message and his conversion has taken place quickly for him.  Our district leader told us yesterday after his interview that he had a strong testimony of the Prophet Joseph.  I realized that our conversion takes place only when we invite the spirit in, especially through prayer.  He passed his interview and he will be married and baptized on the same day – April 27th! The gospel is for all, both old and young, male and female, but it depends on us and whether we are willing to let it into our lives. 

President Packer once said, “We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.” 

This is how Tatay Eddie is.  At first I was worried he was only obedient because he didn’t know any better or because Nanay wanted him to get baptized. But over the last few weeks I have come to realize that he is converted because he can see.  He is willing to see and willing to let the light of the gospel into his life.

We had Family Home Evening at Crisanto’s last night for his birthday! His wish was that he will go on a mission this year!!! That’s my wish for him to.  I hope and pray that through the next months he will only continue to grow in the gospel.

Well Conference was amazing and there was so much to learn.  I am in the process of spending all of my extra money printing talks because I can’t wait for the Liahona edition to come out haha. I loved Elder Holland’s talk!!! He is a very powerful speaker and I liked that he said the only thing God has ever had to work with are people that are imperfect and we need to be patient with ourselves and others because God is patient with us.  I also liked Elder Christoffersons message about alleviating people’s burdens.

I just read Meg and Spencer’s letters. They sound great! It is good to get that first week out of the way - it is rough! It generally takes about 7-8 months for missionaries in the Philippines to feel comfortable with the language - even with studying every day.  I don’t know about Spanish.  By months 4 or 5 it started to feel okay-ish. But, there is so much to learn when you are memorizing the dictionary haha. It sounds like there is a giant army of sisters hitting every mission this spring. Ours is next week!

I am excited to hear about Will’s call. He is such a good kid; focused and driven. He will be a good missionary.  

Well I love you all and hope you have a great week! Maybe we will send some of this blistering heat your way.

Love from the pines,

Sister Meish








Monday, April 8, 2013

Summer Heat is Here

Kumusta po kayo! Sobrang maiint dito! Grabi naman pero okay lang kasi mahal ko talaga and pilipinas! Hi fam! It has been another great week full of the ups and downs of mission life. I know that it was conference weekend for you all and I hope it was wonderful. We get to watch the broadcast’s this coming weekend and I am anticipating it very much. Conference is wonderful always but on the mission it is an extra dose of specia. It is over the last 10 months that I have truly gained a testimony of how significant it is that we have a living prophet on the earth today. How grateful I am that I was not born during the darkness and confusion the world faced prior to the Restoration. I thank God for a living prophet on the earth today.

We are in Naga City today trying to help one of our investigators get married. We spent the morning waiting in the filipino version of the dmv(but worse) trying to get a marriage license.  I also needed new shoes ALREADY! Mine have holes; but like dad said last week.... I think God prefers worn out shoes on missionaries.  We just wear rubber shoes here because it rains so much and we are mostly walking on muddy dirt roads.  The biggest size they have is (thank goodness) perfect for me.  It is so hot here; I cannot believe it.  This is my first summer in the pines and oh man - the heat is hot. 

Because of the heat, we have language study each day after lunch to take a small break from. I sit on our small couch made of bamboo with the electric fan exactly 12 inches away from my face, reading Tagalog out loud and writing and rewriting vocab words to practice. During my afternoon cram session there is a chorus of tinkeling bells out side my window. These bells are from the ice candy sellers. Ice candy is essentially a homemade otter pop. These sellers walk around the streets of Goa selling candy to overheated people. It is a sound that I want to remember.

Crisanto was called into the Young Men’s presidency yesterday. For the first time he bore his testimony during sacrament meeting yesterday and once again got teary eyed. He spoke about how some of his friends tease him now for not drinking and for going to church every Sunday but that he doesn’t mind because he knows this is the truth. I am so proud of Crisanto. He is such a strong person with unflinching faith. I was reminded yesterday as Crisanto stood and received his first calling and then bore his first testimony of my own conversion, the many “first”moments that have year after year added to my conversion. These moments are seemingly small but quite significant; little things that over time have made me into.... me. It has been such a special experience to watch these “first” experiences unroll for brother cris.

I have been studying in Helaman 5 this week and the word REMEMBER stuck out significantly to me. What we chose to remember and prioritize in our lives shapes us as individuals. Frequently we hear from our less actives and investigators that they were going to pray or go to church but they were busy. It occurred to me this week that in order to truly remember our savior properly we have to consciously and consistently prioritize Him and His gospel. I am grateful for this small chunk of time in my life that I have to focus entirely on the savior and his work. It is truly a blessing to be uplifted by these people and their wonderful courage and faith.
The kids here are my favorite. It is summer vacation right now and the blue sky is scattered with kites made out of sticks and plastic grocery bags tied to tin cans. All of the children run through the streets with their kites trailing behind. They are the kite runners of the Philippines.

I met one of the new American sisters that just came 4 weeks ago and she knows Nathaniel. She said to tell him hi. Her name is sister Horst! She is so cute and it was so fun to laugh about the learning curve of the first few weeks in the field.  I loved being able to relate to everything she is going through right now; having a comp from a different culture and just not having a clue what is going on ever.
Well I love you all – I hope Meg and Speen are doing great. You are in my prayers! Owey, stop growing! Bug – I have a picture of our family in my scriptures and all the elders want to date you. Also some of the kids went through my picture album trying to guess of the 2 of us which one was me haha! Love ya twin.

Love from the Pines,

 Sister Meish 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Holy Week


Hi family. So..... I have been really, really sick this week. They think I drank something in the water.  I can’t keep anything down and I have lost another 10 lbs. President said they are going to send me to Manila for hospital work if it doesn’t get better in the next few days.


April fooooollllls~!!!!!!!!!!!!! haha just kidding. I am doing great - we had such a good week.

We had interviews with President this week which was great.  We get 15 American sisters here in three weeks!! In my interview, we discussed the miracles that I have witnessed over the last 6 weeks.  

I can’t believe that Speen leaves today! So his visa came through? How exciting that you get to talk to him. It was great for me to be able to talk on the phone before heading out to the craziest adventure ever.  I just read their last letters. I am so proud of them. My heart aches for them as well because the first 2 weeks are the hardest part of the mission. But they will do so great. Have you heard from Meg yet? Did Adelide get off okay?

Happy Easter! Like all holidays, Easter took on a more significant meaning to me this year because there were no plastic eggs, no candy but we taught about the atonement and we taught about the plan of salvation that God has given to us. This easter has taken on deeper significance to me as I have been able to tell a 27 year old boy that he has the chance to see his father again. This gospel is perfect and wonderful and I am grateful for it in every way.
This week was Holy Week -The Philippines is a Christian country, the majority of the population is Catholic – the “easter” celebrations were a little different than our traditional rabbit and eggs. Actually there was very little celebration on Sunday but Good Friday is the big holiday. Goa was a ghost town; everything was closed down. A lot of people were dressed in black and I guess there is a tradition that no water spouts are to be used on Good Friday, especially close to 3pm because that is the time Christ died. On Friday night there were luminaries everywhere and there was a contest to see who could construct the most elaborate shrine for Christ. There were some pretty impressive models - except for the fact that we know we should not worship false idols. On Friday Morning Sister Abarabar and I were walking in the town Centro and heard extremely loud music. It was a procession reenacting Christ’s walk to Calvary. There was a man portraying Christ and carrying a cross and the where whipping him and shouting at him. The feeling was dark and disturbing. It is interesting that the focus is on the death of Christ when we are so grateful that he overcame death for us all. Anyway it was a sight to see.

I worked as a farmer this week. Our landlady is quite fond of us and has adopted us as her grandchildren. She has ownership of rice fields so on Saturday we went and worked in her rice fields and harvested rice. It was so fun – the enjoyment however was probably due to the fact that we only worked for 1 hour. I have gained such great respect for these bikolano people who work so hard in the heat of the day. The workers around us attempted to teach us the correct technique while also reminding us repeatedly to not cut our hands off. They would yell “kamay mo, kamay mo!” or “your hand, your hand,” each time we took a swing with our sickle and then would just laugh at our poor technique. I was thinking how these workers labor diligently during every step of the work - the planting and the harvesting. If the diligence only lasted through the planting their efforts would be wasted and nothing would be harvested. These farmers place the seeds in perfectly straight rows one at a time throughout miles of fields. Then when the crop is golden brown they go through the rows and rows harvesting each piece. The process is whole and complete. I read in a talk a while back the advice to “become a whole person.” I think like these rice fields we have to have diligence in each phase of our lives. As we take great care to place each seed perfectly in place, giving our attention to the things that matter most we are able to harvest a wonderful crop.

Elder Holland said Don’t you quit.  You keep walking. You keep trying.  There is help and happiness ahead.  Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven.  But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

I know that when the blazing sun beats down on those rice workers they keep working and the blessings of the harvest do come. When the blazing sun beats down on us in the trials of our lives I am so grateful to know that ultimately because of the gospel we can truly all become whole and perfect even as our Savior, Jesus Christ. What a glorious blessing that is!

It seems that the small instances in my life contribute little by little to making me more whole as a person. Jesril passed the Sacrament yesterday in church.  Sister Abrabar and I laughed and laughed as we tried to chase a large vicious bee out of our small bedroom (we have both had to work at our relationship but it is in a very good place now). My little baby brothers missionary letters sound like they come from a mature adult.  I feel the spirit so strong as I sit alone at my termite eaten study table and read the Living Christ. Each day I wake up and do sit ups on a small yellow yoga mat and am grateful for a healthy, strong body.  Crisanto bore his testimony last night to another investigator; promising that his confusion went away when he prayed for understanding.  These are some snippets from my “Holy Week” that have helped make me a little more whole.  I hope all is going well for you! I hope Meg survived the first week in the field! I know she is probably killing it.  Tell them both to go get em.

I received the book from Steve this week with the stories of our ancestors. I have loved reading them (like speen) before I go to bed. It makes me so proud of my heritage and their stories give me strength and increase my faith.

Mahal na Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Meish