I definitely jinxed myself my mentioning to you last week that i apparently have mountains yet to climb. We literally went mountain climbing this last week. Literally. Hiking. In a pencil skirt. Not an easy thing; but so very beautiful.
This last week I reached a milestone of turning one year old as a Filipina. It is hard to imagine that a year ago we arrived; jet lagged and wide-eyed in the Pines. Time is something I will never fully understand. Yesterday in church the speaker didn’t show up so they asked me to take the time. I titled my talk, well if it actually had a title, "Things I have come to know in one year." One of these things I listed was that I have come to know that God lives and that he is our literally father and because of his fatherly position he knows us individually and is in the details of our lives.
I have seen example after example of this over the last year but on Saturday one such example presented itself which led to the hiking mentioned above. About a month ago as Sister Farnes and I traveled to the transfer point in Naga a young mother and her daughter with dark curly hair sat in front of us. The little girl kept peering over the back of her seat to glance at the two American girls. i gave her a piece of candy and started in on the usually "OYM or open your mouth" questions.. Hi, what’s your name; is this your daughter? How many kids do you have? Where are you from? We chatted for the better portion of an hour and we explained who we were as missionaries. She lived in our area and seemed very excited for us to come to her home for a visit. We took her number and then went on our way. She continued to text randomly saying hi and asking how we were doing. We finally were able to schedule time to go visit and she called us leading up to our visit to make sure we were still coming. Well, we started up on the journey, knowing in advance it would be far but we underestimated what "far" meant. After an hour of literally hiking up a dirt trail we arrived at a beautiful rice field community nestled at the base of the mountains. This woman was so excited to meet us and was introducing us to all her neighbors, who happen to be all her relatives. I think I am the first white person to have walked up there – ever. To say we had more than the normal amount of stares would be an understatement.
We began to teach them and tell them about the gospel. Because of the distance they have never had missionaries from any sect come visit them. They had so many questions about why there are so many churches, if there is a life after this, and what baptism meant to us. They were thirsty for knowledge about their father in heaven. I was reminded as this scene unfolded before me of two things.. 1) that god is aware of us and will bring about a way for all of his children to hear of his truth. and 2) that it is true that when people hear the truth of the gospel, if they are listening with spiritual ears, the veil will seem thin and it will be as though they have heard these things before.
This week we also had a family home evening with all of our recent converts and a few investigators. As I sat on the cement floor looking around at all these people that mean so very much to me, I was filled with gratitude. I love these wonderful people. I love the joy that they bring me and the hope that this gospel brings to all of our lives no matter where we are in the world.
I am trying to keep track of miracles that happen each day... yesterdays was that john Paul Loma came to church in a white shirt and the tie we bought last week... in a very Owen like manner, he showed us how he was going to pass the sacrament. hand behind his back, posture straight, and goofy smile on his face. Sister Loma was so proud of him and so was I.
Something that is less miraculous and more funny....My clothes got wet in the rain last week and I have been lazy and haven’t done my laundry because it takes so long. So my wet clothes sat in my laundry bin all week. I pulled them out today and one of my shirts had started to mold. Oops. So there I was doing my neglected laundry and suddenly a giant rat leaped from a pipe and scampered across my feet. I had convinced myself that I had overcome the girly-screaming thing. Cockroaches, spiders, ants in my clothes, and other insects of unusual size have become quite passé. But this was so large and its eyes were so beady, my screaming-girl thing came back in full force today thanks to Mr. Squeakers. Sister Simbol said we will buy rat traps... I don’t know if I want to find a dead rat either though. hah
Yesterday was one of those days that i just wanted to shout: The church is true. My heart was so full of gratitude and love for my savior and the gospel. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that this is his gospel. I couldn’t be more grateful to spread this message of good cheer to the beautiful people of the Philippines.
Love you all! Have a great week!