Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

After a week of rain – rain - rain the sun came back in full force today. I was reading Spencer’s email about wearing coats and gloves and then Meg's about a river of sweat running down her back... my life is definitely more like Meg's – a river of sweat. We are always wet.  If it is not sweat, it is rain. 

Well, transfers came and went. I can’t believe I am in the last month and last transfer of my mission! Where did the time go? My great friend and companion Sister B got transferred to the zone that is furthest south part in our mission and I am currently in the most northern zone. So we are far from one another and I miss her dearly. But my new companion is just as wonderful; Sister Pal from Tarlac, Philippines. I am grateful that I get to speak all Tagalog in my last transfer... I know that if I had an American companion I would be talking a lot more tag-lish.


We have 8 exchanges with the other sisters in our area to cram into a 3.5 week time span. Poor sister Pal also has to somehow learn our area in the few days that we will actually be here. She seems to be a fast learner. We have been walking everywhere so that she can memorize where to go.  

Happy thanksgiving! I was looking through my old journal and last year I wrote a list of 100 things that I am grateful for... I split it into 10 categories. 10 people I was grateful for; 10 foods; 10 places; 10 memories with my family; 10 things that have made me stronger; 10 friends; 10 places in nature; 10 scriptures; and 10 things that make me smile.  I am going to do that again this year. It was interesting to see the things and people that I was grateful for at that time in my mission. Something I have come to realize this week is that I am much more grateful when I take the time to write down my blessings. Even on the mission it seems to be easy to get into a routine that I forget to notice the miracles of each day.  

 This Beautiful Land

In my journal a year ago I wrote that a giant spider came into our apartment in Ligao and I became a spider catcher.  History has repeated itself and a giant spider once again wandered into our apartment...I am now a professional killer of spiders of unusual size.  

This last week we were visiting an investigator whose husband is a member but works on a boat and only comes home twice a year.  This woman grew up with a Book of Mormon in her home because her father is a pastor and enjoyed having conversations with the Mormon missionaries. This week we talked about the Plan of Salvation with this kind sister. Before we left she explained how she is an active catholic, but that she always lets us in because there is more she wants to know. She told us to keep coming. I know that this interest she has is because she can feel a difference. It’s that light that comes from the knowledge we gain from the gospel.  

Filipino Basketball Hoop

Moroni tells us something it is easy to take for granted: (7:16) 

For behold, the aSpirit of Christ is given to every bman, that he may cknow good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the alight of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a bchild of Christ.

I know that this light is what leads us along through the darkness. Every day as we walk people stare and point at me because I am white. The teenage boys and the old men all yell out things that are honestly annoying and often inappropriate.  But, every once in a while as we walk past people will whisper "Mormons." These people are my favorites.  I feel overwhelmingly proud to be a Mormon missionary and try to always turn around and talk to these people. When I hear the annoying and inappropriate comments, I try remembering that I am a representative of the Savior. The church is not well known here as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. People only know us as Mormons.  We try to introduce ourselves using the full name of the church so that they hear Christ’s name.  

Bug, congrats on all you have accomplished this year - for being the most amazing homecoming queen / gorgeous person inside and outside and for the State-wide soccer recognition! 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

P.S. Carli - You are the most beautiful bride! I am so happy for you and wish you both the best!!! 

Count your blessings. I am grateful for all of you! Have a wonderful week.  

Love from the pines,

Sister Meish

Typhoon Damage Here - Lucky Us

Monday, November 18, 2013

Be Good to the World

Hello my dear family

Thanks for the continuous support and concern about the typhoon. It still is the main focus in all of our lessons and the images of shattered homes and families flash across televisions as we walk by.  It is heart breaking but also so encouraging to see people from all across the world standing together to help and do what they can to help total strangers.  It is an absolute miracle about the missionaries in Tacloban all surviving.  Like Helaman’s armies, none were killed. But they have quite a story to tell.  On Tuesday night we were walking down the street when one of the young women in our ward stopped us and told us there was a list of the Tacloban missionaries that were being transferred to Cebu. She pulled out here phone to show us, we scanned and scanned to find Sister B's cousin's name and when finally we got to the second to the last name we started jumping up and down in the middle of main street.  It is amazing how through the gospel you can feel so connected to people you have never met.  


On Friday night we were invited to a small birthday celebration for an elderly woman in the ward. We are very close to this family and enjoyed spending a little time in celebration of this good woman’s life. As we were sitting around the table they had another friend stop by to offer birthday wishes.  They brought a giant birthday card and Nanay (which is what we call mothers here) was so happy.  She kept opening and closing the card with a giant smile on her face.  As I sat there watching this woman whom I care a great deal about  - I received a text message from the Assistant’s telling me that a girl from Goa, my last area had just passed away due to a motor cycle accident. My world stopped for a few moments.  This girl was only 22 and an elementary school teacher. During my seven months in Goa she was the only person in her family that was there every week, even though her entire family is in the church. 

I thought about the contrast that was before me. A woman who had lived a long, happy life, full of joy, while miles away from me another family I love suffers from the loss of their daughter.  


Mosiah 16: 8 - 9

But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.

He is the light and the life of the world; yea a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.


I know that the Savior really can heal this sting.  It is a sting that many are facing in the southern part of my island home. I know that through the Savior the light can shine through. There is a way to move forward.  It is our faith in Christ that can pull us through. In Jacob 2:8 we read that God can “heal the wounded heart.”  

In an article I recently read by a cancer doctor, the author talks about how her patients tend to realign their lives. She says, "in the process of healing our priorities change." I think that is how the gospel is too. As the gospel heals us our priorities change.  We hopefully become more focused on the Savior and his path which enables us to be more like Him.  If we are living the gospel of Jesus Christ our priorities become more focused on things that really do matter vs. things that really don’t.

We had to find a new apartment this week and we literally walked up and down every street in our area until we found something. I was quite sunburned by the end of the day. We ended up crashing on our tile living room floor while we waited for the assistant’s to come and check off the apartment. The landlord is kind and easy to work with which made the new place an easy choice. I think that if we try to be good to the world, the world tends to be good right back.

Green mangos are back in season and the little kids all climbed up and picked some for us after a lesson we taught. It is also the start of my last transfer tomorrow. Sister B is being transferred to a new adventure.  Well, I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week.

Love from the Pines,

Sister Meish

Monday, November 11, 2013


As dad put it: “The world turned to the Philippines this week” as bagyo (typhoon) Yolanda hit this country hard.”  We were in Naga on Tuesday for Mission Leadership Council and President informed us that there was a bagyo coming and it looked big. When we got back to our areas we went into emergency mode calling all of the sisters to make sure that emergency evacuation plans were set and 72 hour kits were ready to go.  I don’t know if I ever mentioned this but my darling companion was on a search and rescue team back in Manila - so she is pro at emergency preparedness.  We moved everything off of the floors in our apartment in case of flooding.  Then she had us all pack a back pack with an extra pair of clothes, food, candles, matches, and anything we would need if we had to evacuate. We charged all of our emergency lights and cell phones and felt that we were as ready as we could be.  On Friday the entire mission was in lock down. I am pretty sure every mission in the pines was in lock down.  We experienced heavy rains and wind.  The typhoon scale reader signals one through four... we were at a one and these were some of the strongest winds and rain I have seen. I can’t imagine what the signal four was like for the islands to the south of us.  But the pictures we have seen tell the story. 

On Thursday night around 3 a.m. I woke up to complete darkness.  The electricity was out and I couldn’t see anything.  I lay there in my bed waving my hand back and forth in front of my face trying to figure out if I was dreaming or awake.  That kind of darkness disorients you.   Luckily my rescue companion had us pack up our stuff so I knew right where my flash light was at the foot of my bed in the front pocket of my backpack.  As I clicked the little button, light filled the room and sister b and I both commented on the peace that came from a little bit of light.

We are just north of the Tacloban Mission. We were worried on Friday night because the storm was moving through Legaspi and we didn’t know if it was going to keep moving north and come right through us. Luckily it changed course.  

Sister B's cousin is in the Tacloban mission and they havent heard from him yet. Understandably, she is having a hard time. I want to go down and work on the volunteer groups. They need so much help.  The members’ are grateful for the gospel and the perspective it gives. The missionaries from Cebu and Tacloban are also struggling because their families just survived the earthquake and then had to go through this. It is actually amazing that so many people live here because it can be so dangerous – especially when they don't have much of a defense against the elements. 

This week has been one full of contemplation.  I have been thinking about the substance of my life, what gives my life meaning and purpose.  On the mission you really don’t have too many possessions.  Everything you own you can fit into 2 small suitcases and that is all.  As I filled my small backpack with the things I would want and need, the things I cared about most were my journals.  They were the only things I really wanted besides the essentials.  The journals hold my memory of what I have experienced over the last 17 months.  When it is all and said and done - those words may be all I have to hold on to of these people I love so much. This makes me once again realize that in this life the things that matter are people.  In life we have a kind of spiritual survival kit. What we put into this depends on what is important to us. It takes time to build up this supply but I think that like our physical survival kit we had this weekend, our spiritual reserves can sustain us in times of need. For me, I am making a goal to have a better supply of quiet prayer, of making memories of laughing instead of running from one appointment to the other, of taking pictures of the beauty of the earth, and serving other people, of singing and listening to uplifting music, and of consecrated time spent in the scriptures.  

I read in Alma this week and Alma tells his son Helaman how he has a testimony not of himself or of a carnal mind but of God.  I was thinking how that is the trick of life... to see things as godly. We know that we cannot carry the riches of the world but it is not enough to not place our hearts on the things of the world. We have to see the world through Godly eyes.  That means seeing the man who drives a padyak and picks up our trash can be Godly. The sweet woman with only a few teeth, a frail, thin body seemed to take on the godly traits of goodness this week as we sat on her cement floor and talked about the gospel. She sat with her knees to her chest and tears in her eyes. She has a difficult life trying  to make a small 5 peso candle work in a 72 hour kit because the 10 peso candle was too expensive. I know that God lives. I know that this is his work.  Typhoons and darkness come into our life but that is why we have the gospel.  It brings us peace, even if only a little and gives us the strength to carry on.  

Thank you all for your care and concern and love and especially your prayers. They are still needed for the Tacloban mission! If the church does a clothing drive, feel free to donate my closet. The sun is out today and I get to be a missionary again this week and try to do a little good in a world that is hurting and seems dark. I feel so grateful. I am much more blessed than I should be. I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week. 

Love from the Pines, 

Sister Christensen 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

3 White Shirts and a Bus Ride

hey fam!

I cannot believe it is November.  Where has the time gone? We had a wonderful week full of tricks and treats.... on Tuesday we were in Sipocot for exchanges.  We counted the exchanges as very successful because we found wonderful Witches Hats for 20 pesos.

While we were there we were able to teach one of their investigators who is getting married next week.  This is someone you may not picture passing the sacrament on Sunday in a white shirt and tie. But there hanging in their small one room home are 3 white shirts and ties - cleaned and ready for this coming Sunday.  This man has an incredible knowledge of the gospel and a strong testimony of the restoration.  I am so grateful the gospel that helps us to see new light, to find hope in darkness and become a little bit better each day. 

The bus ride from Sipocot to Daet is a three hour ride and buses here can pack 10 times as many people into a 10 times smaller spot. Sister B and I had to split up because there weren't two chairs next to one another.  I ended up squishing in the middle of two mothers. One mother had a three year old boy sitting on her lap and an 8 month girl in her arms. The other one had 3 children waiting for her at home. As we talked I found out that both of them had met missionaries before and knew a little bit about the church.  We got on to the topic of the temple and how families can be an eternal unit.  The woman with two children in her arms looked into my eyes and her face changed. It was the same change I have seen in other investigators... it is what the church leaders talk about when they say investigators will hear an echo of a testimony they once knew. We referred them to the elders and hopefully they will be able to recall that testimony they once had. 

We had a curfew nearly every day this week because of the election and then because of All Souls Day and All Saints Day. We had to be in the apartment by 6p.m. because by 6p.m. No matter what time of year it is here it gets dark by 6:00 p.m.  Because we were cooped up in our apartment for hours on end we bought a squash and carved it for Halloween.  The sisters had never seen that before and they loved it! Then we paraded around our apartment taking pictures. Somehow the Santa hats came out and were thrown into the mix and more pictures were taken.  It was a great Halloween. 
Will’s first email from Chile killed me. Hopefully he can figure out the translator thing.

Congratulations to Sara!! ahhhh. I love England. I may have to be the one that comes to pick you up. That is so fun. You are going to love it and be a wonderful missionary. Yeah for three- missionary families. 

Well in this month of gratitude, I am so grateful for this gospel and the purpose it brings to my life. I am grateful to be here and be a representative of my savior. I am grateful to know of a loving heavenly father and a loving son and their wonderful plan for us. I am grateful for you and your love and support. I hope you have a wonderful week. 

Love from the pines,

Sister Christensen