Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year!!

note from mom--Sister K didn't get a lot of time to write this week since she got to skype with us on Christmas Day.  She did send a few photos she took with her new camera we sent her.  I expect some great photography next week when she visits Banaue Rice Terraces again. 

[Christmas here in Nueva Vizcaya]


Sister K

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

HE is the GIFT!

Merry Christmas to All!! 

In my personal study, I am studying the life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. I love the story of his birth. As I think about the work of the angel that came to tell that Christ was born and proclaim peace and good will for all mankind, I liken it to the work that I am doing here. In a way, missionaries can be like those angels spreading the good news of the gospel and being a proclaimer of peace. I feel so blessed to be here and be a part of this great and marvelous work, bringing that love, joy, and peace to all as we testify of our Savior Jesus Christ.

This past week was pretty great. We were able to go to Santiago for a Christmas devotional. Sister Rahlf talked about the music of Christmas and President Rahlf talked about the gifts of Christmas. When we really think about what the true meaning of Christmas and the real blessing it is in our life, it becomes so much more special. He showed us a picture of one of his favorite paintings. It was a room full of toys and presents, yet the two kids were completely focused on the little nativity set. For anyone who hasn't seen the "He is the Gift" video, I challenge you to watch it and this Christmas really think about the gift of our Savior and His example to us all.   [please watch the link below]

Even with Christmas coming up, missionary work still goes about as normal. This week we had kind of a funny experience. Last Sunday, a member introduced us to a couple that lived close by him. We taught them that day and they were excited for us to come back. We set a return appointment for a specific time and everything. Even the day before we saw one of the the family members and confirmed that we would see them the following day. So when we showed up at there house for the appointment, their house had been completely abandoned. All the walls were stripped of the bamboo frame and there was nothing left...GONE...VANISHED!! Sister Garcia and I stood there puzzled, thinking that they must have ran away from us as fast as possible. Turns out they didn't. They just had to move for a problem with the land that they were on, but for a while we were so confused. It was a great laugh afterward!  ; )

Hope you all have a great week and a very Merry CHRISTmas!!  Remember, HE is the gift!

Love you all,
Sister K

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I hope I'm always a "Lifter"

Ten more days 'till Christmas!!! Meaning ten more days until I can Skype the fam!! The countdown begins!

I got quite a few questions this week from various people so here are my answers...

So this week was pretty great. The most memorable thing was last Thursday we got to go back to Santiago to hear from Elder and Sister Bowen. When President Rahlf introduced them, he explained how they were "lifters." They are the kind of people who lift others higher, rather than "leaners" that tend to not necessarily bring others down, but make things heavier than they should be. So I ask myself, "Am I a lifter, or a leaner?" There were so many great things about what they talked about, so it is hard to say it all, but I testify that the spirit was very strong.

The times I probably feel the strongest spirit, though, is when I am able to testify about the reasons why I am on a mission. We have a less-active that we taught a couple days ago. She is a young mother of 2 and her husband currently is living abroad for work. She hasn't been to church in over a year and in the past had no desire in coming back. This week as we were teaching she ask why we would leave our family for so long, and if we were worried about them. What I was able to tell her was that I wouldn't be this far from home if I didn't know that this church is true. I testified of how I was sent here to help families learn what my family has been blessed with my whole life and that I am not really worried about them because there has been a promise that as we serve the Lord, our families are being taken care of. The spirit was undeniable. This Sunday she came to church with her two kids. Miracles, I tell ya!

One tradition, I've learned here in the Pines that I will bring back with me. Is "Sopas Sunday." I love sopas. It is like this macaroni soup with cabbage and carrots and pretty much whatever you want to add into it. We make it a lot on Sunday because the title just fits. They other thing is curry so that is something I will probably make often when I get home too. They're all great for student cheap eats!

The streets are crowed. There are a ton of different kinds of vehicles and it is always soooooo loud. Motorcycles are the most popular form of transportation. So it sounds like a dirt bike track most of the time. There are a lot shops along the streets and BBQ street vendors too. And it doesn't really matter where you walk. Most people don't really walk on the sidewalks anyway... But you have to be careful because there is no such thing a traffic lane,  people just drive wherever they want.  

Hope that answered your questions. If anyone has anymore feel free to ask!  I would love to hear from you!

love you all!
Sister K.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ruby, Ray, and Nanay

For anyone who heard about Ruby (Typhoon Hugupit) coming our way here in the Philippines, just know all is well here in the Cauayan Mission. Thanks to many prayers, we didn't even get a drop of rain. We did, however, get some dark scary looking clouds, and some nice chilly air.[when she says "chilly" she means 75˙down from 95˙]  From what I have heard, other parts of the Philippines where worse off and experienced flooding etc, but luckily Ruby didn't take as hard a hit as Yolanda from last year. A tender mercy for sure.

This week, for us, went about pretty normal. We did manage to stumble upon this little park last Monday and let our inner five-year-old out for a second and spread a little Christmas spirit.

Tuesday we had our last district meeting for this cycle. It is amazing how inspired these meetings can be. We talked about creating an atmosphere were the spirit can come and teach through us, even when there are so many other distractions. Little did we know, one of our teaching appointments happened to work out like that. This person is a less-active member that we went to visit. She is a mother of 2 small children and her husband is working abroad. As we were teaching, her older child was running around the house and the younger was climbing all over the couch and following her older brother. They were cute, but super distracting not only for us missionaries, but for her as well. But we really tried applying what we just learned and it did give way for us to feel of the Holy Spirit, which is the real teacher. Even when there are so many things that can drive out the spirit, just remember keep calm and love one another, then the spirit will really come to testify. 

On Wednesday, Sister Garcia and I were able to attend the New Missionaries/Trainers meeting. We were in Cauayan all day, but it was another effective meeting that definitely helps us in our work everyday. It was also nice to see other missionaries is the different parts of the mission that we don't get to meet with often. I even got to see my Nanay, Sister Lamac again! We took a family picture :)

Thursday morning, our district moved some dirt. Not a big deal. We are pretty hard working. 

Friday, Sister Garcia and I went on splits with the Sister TrainerLs. I stayed here in Bayombong, while Sister Garcia went to Solano. That day, Sister Barney and I went around and got punted from almost every appointment. But what I have realized that being punted sometimes leads us to unexpected opportunities. The Lord has a plan in store. Sometimes our plan is not His plan, so He makes it possible for us to complete what He would have us do. Funny thing that day, one of the recent converts we visited has a rice farm and right now they are harvesting. After that appointment, he gave us a HUGE bag of rice. It was kind of heavy, but Sister Barney and I took turns carrying it around the rest of the day. As I was holding it like a baby, I named it Baby Ray...like Ray Rice. I know I am so clever. :) Baby Ray made my fellow housemates pretty happy. Their diet consists of rice for every meal of the day...I'd rather stick to my morning toast though. [note from mom--to Erin's defense, she of course, knows nothing of the Ray Rice fiasco, but it was still very clever ;)]

Saturday was when it really started to get chilly around here, but it made our weekly hike pretty nice, not having to be completely exhausted after hiking in the heat! Thanks Ruby! Even though we weren't really able to teach very many people there, we were shocked when one of our new investigators that we didn't even get to teach this past week made the journey down the mountain, over the river on the boat, and to church for the full three hours. Blessing do come! 

Hope all of you have a great week!
Ingat lagi!
Sister K

a week late but...

Happy December my dear family and friends! Can you just explain to me how it is already December !?!

For any of you that may be wondering what it may be like for us missionaries to walk a day in Bayombong, it goes a little like this...

We walk out of our little apartment and out the gate with umbrellas in hand, whether rain or shine. As we walk down the street, often we get weird stares, and by we, mostly me. If not stares, then we get calls from people saying, "Hello sister!" or "What is your name?" or "Americana!" Yep, I'm famous.
Because this is a city area, along with the shout-outs from the people, often we hear the honking of the jeepnies and tricies. As we get more into the neighborhood streets, the sounds turn into karaoke, the Filipino's favorite pass time....oh and barking dogs.

As for smells, mostly smells like car exhaust. Not the most pleasant, but it is a lot better than some of the other unmentionables!!  bleh...

Christmas has been going on here since September, but now with December finally here, it is full blast. Christmas music blasts from the brand new grocery store in town. But at night it is the best. Christmas lights are all over the town center, with a star at the top of the center tower.
By the time we finally get back into the apartment in the evening, everything starts to settle down, we hear the sounds of the kids riding their bikes around selling balut, dogs continue to bark (really, it never ends), and the occasional rooster crowing, (I've really grown used to those). I keep thinking when I go home, it will be strangely quiet, but that is also a long time away. For now, I'm happily enjoying it down here in Bayombong. 

Love you all!
Sister K

P.S. Sorry to hear about the Trim family. Special prayers are being sent their way. We are so grateful to have the blessing of temples and eternal families.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

my mom is a noob!

Note from mom...    Somehow, I have lost Sister Koncurat's blog post this week.  I have searched the cloud high and low without luck!  But, a sister in her area just "friended" me on FB and posted a few photos of her at their family home evening...  Don't you just love mom stalking!?!  I'll have Erin resend this weeks blog on her next prep day and post two next week.  For now, enjoy this cutie.  : )

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

9 down 9 to go!!

9 months down, 9 to go! Can't believe I have hit that half-way mark. The last nine months have been full of so much spiritual awesomeness, some interesting things, and just plain weird things. But, overall,  these last nine months have been the greatest, most memorable times that I have ever experienced. From my first moments in the MTC, to the first night in the Philippines when I ate ballut and woke up with a giant spider crawling near my head, to realizing that the language they taught in the MTC was not the same language that they speak here!!  OK, it is, but it totally sounds different and so much faster! To helping my first investigator enter the waters of baptism, and helping so many more in since. Oh and that one time, when someone came up to us while we were sitting with some members outside their house and told us that he just killed someone...yeah, that was pretty weird...(no worries, he didn't actually kill anybody)... Gotta love the Philippines. Anyway, I have so many memories already.   I know I am right where I need to be. I'm so grateful to be apart of this great work and I love serving the the people of the Philippines.

With Thanksgiving coming up this week, I thought I would list a few things to express my gratitude.

I am THANKFUL for:

1. My companion. She is great and super helpful. She really teaches me how to be a better missionary.
Birthday balloon boxing, that's all. 

2. My housemates-for the little things of service they do everyday, they're amazing!
They woke me up at midnight to surprise me with a cake and in turn its traditional to do a service for someone on your birthday, so I made them pancakes for breakfast. 

3. All the members here and back home that continue to help in the work, whether it is working with us missionaries, or simply praying for us. Every little thing helps!

4. The little miracles we are blessed with everyday. Some days it is a simple thing, like the being able to teach someone that always turns us away, and others bigger, but everyday, the Lord's hand is there to bless us.

5.  Thank you for the birthday wishes...I felt the love for sure!

And lastly, but definitely not least..

6. I am thankful for my family-for all the love and support they give me. It might seem like a small thing, but it is a big deal for me, especially after seeing so many that don't have even get a note of support.  I LOVE YOU ALL!

Thank YOU!

Remember to give thanks to those around you, especial our Heavenly Father who blesses us everyday!

Here's to the next 9 months!!    
Mahal ko kayo!
Sister K

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"Make Holy the Places We Stand"

The other day, we were able to hear from President and Sister Rahlf at stake conference, and the line that stuck out to me most was, "make holy the places we stand." Often we hear that we need to stand in holy places by surrounding ourselves by things that will lift us up and bring the spirit into our lives, but it is hard when we are required to go into the world where we are surrounded by temptations and other evils, that is why we need to make holy the places we stand. As a missionary, we are to avoid all those worldly temptations and focus on the work. And for everyone, there are undetected temptations. It is easy to fall in to that trap as well, but when we realize how much a difference it makes and how much stronger the spirit is with us, it makes it even more desirable to work hard to resist those things that distract or bring us down.

An easy temptation that all of us may struggle with at one point or another is the temptation to belittle ourselves and not see the worth that we have. It is easy to say, "I don't make that much of a difference," or "I'm not good enough," or probably the most common, "I can't." These phrases are dangerous and without realizing, we set ourselves up for our own failure. This area is a lot more difficult than my first area. Not very many people are progressing in our area of the branch. Last cycle there was much success for the other sisters, and then I compared it to the little success that we were having. I thought to myself, maybe I'm not doing something right, or maybe I can't really help these people because I don't speak as well as I would like to. But that is completely false. I know I am here for a certain purpose, and I know with the Lord's help, we can be unstoppable and can do the impossible.
It has helped me a ton in just the last couple of days to have a new companion, fresh from the MTC. I can see how she looks at everything with fresh eyes, ready to help everyone who comes our way. I have finally understood that concept of loosing myself in the work. I have no time to think about myself, when I am making sure the people in this area have what they need to progress, and helping my new companion adjust easily to missionary life. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I can see what a difference it is making already. 
Sister Garcia from Urdeneta, Philippines-pillow in hand, now let's get to work!

Just yesterday, we were able to teach this older lady that was a referral from another investigator. There was also her daughter and her daughter's two young kids. As we started talking about the importance of families, we began to mention the blessings of the temple. The daughter's eyes widened as I said that we can be married for time and all eternity and we can have our families sealed to us as well. Immediately, the daughter said, "I don't know why, but as soon as you said that, I felt cold." (in Tagalog of course) And all I could think was that this is the real reason I am here. I am here to help families to have a better life, not just a temporary happiness, but a life with eternal happiness. It is possible. I know that. I have seen the difference the gospel has already made in some other these peoples lives and families.
Although challenges and temptations come into our lives, the first thing we have to do in order to see past that challenges and resist that temptation, is sanctify ourselves--make holy the person inside of ourselves, and the places we stand become the holy places.

until next week...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shaped and Molded

Mauri! (My companion has been teaching me a little Kiribati)

I feel like I say this every week, but how the heck is it already Monday again?!?  Yesterday,  I officially have reached eight months out too.  It is so crazy to think that much time has already past. It has even been over a year since I received my mission call. It still feels like yesterday that we had all that snow, and me and my brothers built that giant snow man in the front yard.

Soon after, I was boarding a plane to start this great adventure. At times I still think, I'm just a new missionary, fresh from the MTC, still just learning the swing of things, and then I realize, oh wait, I've been here for a good amount of time. But what I've realized is, no matter the point you are at in your mission, it is a continuous process of being shaped and molded to the person the Lord wants you to be.

Every week, there are things that we experience to either test and try us, and to humble and strengthen us. This week was no different, in that we had a just a little bit of everything. A little sickness, a little disappointment, a little hope, and a little miracle.

I'll first start with the sickness. With the sudden change in weather, a cold went around in the apartment, with the sinus headaches and everything. Warm chicken noodle soup, and lots of my new favorite juice (Smart C+ in the Calamansi and grapefruit flavor) did the trick.

We stayed inside and rested for two days, but we decided with that lost time, we would work even harder this week to help the people, and reach our goals. Also this was the last regular week with Sister Itimaera before she has to go home. Which brings us to the little disappointment. I am so going to miss her!

I love Sister Itimaera! She is super sweet and funny. Actually the island in Kiribati that she is from is known for always laughing and being happy. I testify. Even when it is raining outside, and we don't feel like hiking a mountain in the mud, we just put on some sunglasses and pretend it's a beautiful day.

 We make the best of it outside waiting for our little boat to come with a little selfie. And even when none of our investigators that we have been working really hard with don't show up to church, we continue to love them, and have hope for them. I'll be sad to have to kill her but at least we have one more week!

As for hope. No matter how many times investigators don't follow through on their commitments or when we are "punted", there is always hope for them. We have been searching and searching for a progressing investigator or new ways to help our investigators progress. Let me tell you, it is not easy. But we never loose hope and we always have faith. And what we have been seeing is a lot of progression in the less active members in this area. There is always a silver lining.

Our little miracle for the week. We were walking to our area we always visit on Sundays. This area is like one big U shape. We usually go in one side and make our rounds and go out the other side, but this time we got an impression to go the opposite way. As we were walking, a 12 year-old girl tapped me on the back. Not anything new. Lots of kids just stare at me, yell at me from far away, or even just rub my arm as I pass by. Just normal thing, ya know. Well this time, I felt the impression to not ignore this person, but to stop and talk to her. As we were talking, we found out that missionaries used to visit her friend, about a year and a half ago, but they stopped. We then asked if we could come back another time and share with her our message, she then said, will you come over right now and teach us. She introduced us to her friend and someone that we had actually been looking for. We taught all three of them right then and there. I don't know what will come of them, but of course we can always have hope.

I'm so glad that I still have 10 more months ahead of me. There is so much to look forward to, and I know that every day is shaping me to be something more than I ever was before. And I am sure there are definitely more adventures through random little jungles.   :)

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister K

Monday, October 20, 2014

We live in a beautiful world...yeah we do, yeah we do.

Well no matter the weather, nothing stops us missionaries from enjoying what God has blessed us with. This week was the real start to the "ber" months. I never thought it would, but it actually got chilly this week. I even got to wear sweaters while proselyting AND got sleep without the constant fan blowing...WITH my blanket!! YEP-that is a big deal! Although, I've realized how much I love my fan. The sound is kind of soothing. It also tends to drown out the sounds of howling dogs and crowing roosters that don't seem to respect the whole 10:30 lights out rule. Maybe they need to take a read thought the white handbook?
Me and Sister Atienza
So this week was in with the cold and rain, which made proselyting pretty interesting, especially to our area in the mountain that we have to cross a river to get to. The people we visited were surprised to see us there, with the rain and all, but of course, not even the rain can stop us from the Lords work. I know our efforts weren't wasted when we were able to have many of our less active members in attendance. That moment when we realized the people who actually came really did bring sunshine to our hearts. Ok that was pretty cheesy, but hey, it's true. One of the most happiest times of a missionary's week is when the people that they teach show up to church.
the zone
All week we have been praying for sunshine for our epic p-day trip to Banaue. Luckily, it only was a little misty. So on to see one of the "8th wonders" of the world. Being able to see one this masterful creations was amazing and really beautiful. It was a nice hike down the rice terraces and then back up again which was at least, a million steps, and the view from the top was incredible. I am so thankful for the beauty of the earth that we have been blessed to come down to and gain experience. Heavenly Father really does love us!

Enjoy the beauty all around : )
Mahal ko kayo!
Sister K

so many steps!

hey...get to work!

The Banaue Rice Terraces---you really must see!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Yep...I live in the Philippines.

Erin didn't have a lot of time to write this week but she did answer a few questions I had for her....

My new area doesn't have set dinner appointments-but we do have them on occasion. Last night we had a dinner appointment with some members (a mother with her son. She has two sons already on missions and one about to leave on his mission to New Jersey. It was a pretty exciting evening though, after dinner we hear this noise coming from the upstairs and all of a sudden a bat was flying around our heads. Sister Davis and her comp, Sister Atienza quickly dropped underneath the table and Sister Itimaera and I were sitting there ducking our heads, while the son took their broom and was trying to shoo it out of the house. We were all just laughing about the situation. And I got a picture before leaving. yep...I live in the Philippines!

The shower- freezing cold!....but it is a working shower and not a bucket. I'm happy to have it.

Laundry-yep...that IS still in a bucket. 

Last week I mentioned our little mouse issue...well...yeah it's a little bigger issue than I thought....I mean bigger RAT! ughhhh!! so...off to the market for a little "sleepy time rat food". And our little mouse, well, he's a goner too after taking a little swim in the flusher...no clogs either! yes...I do have nightmares these things are in my bed with me. blech! But this little guy and his friends are looking out for me.

My human housemates are great. Sister Atienza and I transferred in at the same time and I knew her from Santiago too. She was in the North zone and I was in South, but we would meet at the same building for district meeting. We are both here trying to learn our new area before both of our companions go home. This week, Sisters Davis and Itimaera both had to go to Manila for fingerprinting (a requirement to exit the country) so Sister Atienza and I were left here to really figure out our areas on our own. Even though we had only been here for a week, we didn't get lost (a huge plus) and we still managed to find people to teach! The sisters were only gone from Thursday night until Saturday evening, and came home with gifts of Krispy Kreme Donuts...oh how yummy!! Can you believe you can find Krispy Kreme in Manilla??? wha??

As for other highlights of the week--I got to go on a hike with Sister Itimaera. I told you last week about how there is an area we have to cross a river to get to, that area is pretty far and a nice long walk to get to the river, then after crossing, we walked a long flat road to get to the bottom of a mountain that we then hike up to get to our appointments---Yep that's fun. By the time we got there, we got to teach one person but everyone else had left. Instead of being disappointed, we were just thankful for the one person that was there, and the nice fresh air away from the city. It was really beautiful and I always love the exercise.

So one of the most exciting parts of being a missionary is finding someone "golden." Most of the time people we teach people with only a passing interest, but we still teach them in hopes of maybe someday having the desire to progress. What is rare is when we find someone who is really searching. This week a member gave us a referral for someone in that position. When we contacted her, she explained how she had been Catholic for years but felt like something was missing. I am so excited to teach her more and help her to fill that void that this gospel really does bring. I feel so blessed to have met this person and I just hope that her heart is open for her to feel the spirit of truth. I'll let you know... : )

Sounds like conference was amazing, I will get to watch or read about it next week.

Hope all is well,
much love, 
Sister K