Monday, January 26, 2015

Well, my pumping water, bathing out of a bucket pioneer days are over...sort of. We have water inside our apartment woo hoo! Such a big relief! But, we are still doing lots of walking and walking and more walking! So, I guess I'm still a pioneer. ...did I say I'm still walking?

I think the first sign of a "masipag" missionary is while you are walking, you can start to feel your shoe completely falling apart. I think these had a few good miles on them, but it makes me so sad to have to throw them away...

It's official, I'm a "masipag" missionary-meaning: hard-working.

This past week, we enjoyed our last district meeting of the transfer. It was also my branch companion's first district meeting. She was pretty excited to get to be a part of it. For her first week, Sister Infante, a young member of the branch here in Bayombong, has been working with me. She is waiting for her mission call and used this week as a mini training. It's like having a second anak (baby)! I'm really enjoying getting to know her. She's pretty amazing. She is 22 years old, a primary counselor, seminary teacher, and is waiting for her mission call. Even though she is busy, she was really excited to help me out while I'm in companion limbo. In return, I've been helping her out in seminary, it's been pretty fun. Good things are happening in the area. Transfers are this Wednesday and I will, once again make the trek to Cauayan to meet my 4th companion of the month.

Mom told me in her letter she had been praying for our landlady to soften her heart and have compassion on us sisters (and fix our water tank). It worked! ...prayers are answered in so many ways. I had a pretty severe bout of stomach flu last week, and she was so sweet to give me flat sprite and sit with me while Sister Infante went to buy a thermometer. She has definitely been softened to our plite and thanks to a priesthood blessing and prayers coming from both sides of the world, I'm feeling a lot better! It is amazing what the priesthood can do for us. I have such a strong testimony that it is the power from God and that it has truly blessed my life in so many ways.

Hope you all have a great week!! Thanks for all your prayers and concerns. Things are looking up!

-Sister Koncurat

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ano ba iyan?!

Bye Sister Garcia

[NOTE from Mom---She would never say it but Erin is having a rough couple of weeks and sure could use some love from friends and family.  Any notes of encouragement will be awesome.]

Where do I start. This has probably been one of the craziest weeks of my mission so far. I guess I can start from last Monday. 

Our P-Day went about normal. Did the normal emailing in the morning, some grocery shopping, went to "MacDo" for a fancy lunch (McDonalds here is like a 5 star restaurant lol). We came home to do our laundry AND....we have no running water!!  "Ano ba iyan?!" (meaning; what?)   Its been a week now and we still don't have water in our house. UGH!!!  At least we have a handy dandy manual water pump outside in the yard.  Sounds fun right?!   I swear, it's like living in the pioneer days.  No big deal, for our morning showers we get a work out pumping and then carrying buckets of water up the stairs to our CR (apt).  By the time we get it fixed, I'll be stronger than Seth ;) ..better keep up that weight lifting, lil' bro! 

[note from mom-so the landlady downstairs doesn't want to fix the water pump tank...she thinks the sisters are too destructive and keeps threatening to kick them out.. crazy lady for sure.  I confirmed that the mission home does know about the situation but she's not sure how or when it will be remedied.]

Tuesday morning we had our monthly zone meeting, also pretty normal. It was all about magnifying our calling as missionaries. One of my favorite take-a-ways was a scripture found in Philippians 4:13, which says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." It was a good reminder for what was about to happen next...

After the meeting, Sister Garcia and I took a nice 3 hour bus ride up to Cauayan City where we spent the night in the comfort of the mission home and had a REAL SHOWER in the morning, complete with hot water...It was a good break before having to pump and carry that water again. 

Wednesday morning, I had to say goodbye to Sister Garcia, who needed to return home for just a little while, but will be back to finish her mission soon, I hope.
The rest of the day I worked with some sisters in Cauayan City until I was able to find travel companions for the way back to Bayombong. I stayed the night at the Sister Trainer Leader's apartment in Solano and met my temporary part-time companion. She served her mission for 13 months in the Davao mission, but had to come home for health reasons. While at home, her health improved enough to try out mission life again with me. Unfortunately by the morning of our third day together, her migraines came on full force, so she went home again as well. So for this next week and a half I'll be working with a member from the branch here and living in a threesome at night with my fellow apartment sisters.  

Though things are going a little bit differently than the normal, the work still goes on. The blessings still come and I can definitely feel Christ's strength with me.

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Koncurat

P.S. If you missed the young adult fireside, check it out!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Magandang buhay!

Magandang buhay! (Good Life)

Can I just testify how true the Book of Mormon is?! It has the power to change lives, seriously! Right now, it is my goal for everyone I teach to read it. I heard a story not too long ago about someone who had a friend that was not a member of the church. The friend had a severe smoking addiction and every time he tried to quit, he would relapse. The friend gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and told him if he would read it, he would be able to break the addiction. He started reading the first couple chapters and questioned his friend's theory, saying how he didn't really see how this would break his addiction. The friend replied, "Keep reading." The man got further into the Book of Mormon and questioned again, but the friend yet replied, "Keep reading." Eventually by the end of reading, the man no longer had a taste for cigarettes and took the challenge to ask God if it what he read was true. Without a doubt, the man knew it was.

Here, on my mission, I have seen miracles brought about because of the Book of Mormon. I have seen the change in the unity of families because of the restored gospel. Right now, I can see the progress already as our investigator is in the middle of reading the Book of Mormon.

We met one of our newest investigators just a couple weeks ago. When we met her, she hardly said a word, but when we asked if we could return to see her, she replied, "If you want to." The following visit, we gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Although seemingly uninterested, she accepted it and said she would read it. We were shocked when the next time we came back she told us that she wasn't done, but to our surprise, she was already half way through. She has now finished it, only 3 weeks later, and has accepted the invitation to be baptized. Amazing, di ba?

This past week, at our quarterly interviews, Sister Rahlf asked us who our favorite Book of Mormon hero is. I said Ammon, from the book of Alma. He was a wicked man, but when he came to find the truth, he spent the rest of his life serving the Lord. He stood against those who hated him, who even wanted to kill him, but because of his exceeding faith and his righteous purpose, he was protected. He knew which way he faced, when he said that the strength he had was not his own, but of the Lords. His mission has inspired my purpose and the work that I do here.

I challenge everyone to read the Book of Mormon, even if you have already read it, read it again! If you don't know of it's truthfulness, ask our Heavenly Father in prayer. Take advantage of the blessing that we have right at our fingertips.

Mahal ko kayo!
Sister Koncurat

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Maligayong Bagong Taon!

It's 2015 already?! What?? Sheesh, time is flying!!  I know I say that all the time but it TOTALLY DOES!!  With all the excitement that happens on new years eve, we were asked to be in by 6 pm to keep safe.   My fellow apartment mates and I all played games and I introduced them to roasted s'mores (can you believe none of them had a clue what s'mores were? ah, Americano!) Then at midnight a ton of fireworks started to going off so we went out and watched them in the street. One very funny tradition here, at midnight, everyone jumps up, so they literally jump into the new year. We got so distracted with our games that we forgot to do the countdown or jump. I will make sure to bring that tradition home with me next year though.  One of the games we did play had a penalty if you lost.... the winner got to draw on your face with lipstick. I guess my winning luck has left me, because I lost almost every time.... I look so great, right?!

Because of the early curfew,  I was able to do some reflecting and goal setting. This has been one of the most interesting years of my life and it will be a time I will never ever forget.  As hard as a mission is, I can say, I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. Just one year ago, I was just preparing to leave for my mission.  Before embarking on this awesome adventure, I was getting some last minute shopping done, sewing skirts, and being just plain lazy (yeah, I admit it, I was pretty darn lazy); you really don't know what work is until...

I remember talking with my older brother, sharing with him how nervous I was not really knowing what was to come. He assured me that serving a mission is one of the hardest things we could do, but one of the best as well. This week I was thinking about that, knowing now that a mission is so hard, why would anyone want to do it?  ...and then I remembered the first part in the Plan of Salvation. In our pre-earthly existence, Heavenly Father told us of His plan. He told us we were going to have challenges and tests in this life, but there are greater blessings to come if we choose to accept His plan. Everyone of us that is here now on the earth; rejoiced and choose His great plan. Knowing that we have hard things ahead didn't deter us.  I've witnessed both the challenges and the great blessings throughout this past year and it's been so awesome.  2015 will be full of all new challenges but I know the blessings will also be poured out upon us all.  For those preparing to go on a mission, know it isn't always easy working as hard as we do, or striving for that perfect strict obedience, but I can also tell you, the tender mercies of the Lord, the changes you see in yourself and those around you are some of the greatest things you could ever witness in your life. I encourage everyone who is able to serve a mission, just GO! "If ye have the desires to serve God, ye are called to the work (D&C 4:3)." The greatest thing about a mission and about life in general is that we are not alone in any of it. We have Jesus Christ at our side, always willing to help. I testify that I have felt him at my side every step of the way.

Today as we were on our way back from Banaue Rice Terraces for our Prep Day Activity, we stopped for a second and I saw this sign posted at the top of a waiting shed.

Remember, He is always there. And I testify that the hardest things lead to some of the greatest blessings and incomprehensible JOY.

Maligayong Bagong Taon! (Happy New Year)
Love you all!
Sister Koncurat

PS.  We had a great trip to the rice terraces and I got a new camera for Christmas sooooo...tons o'pics!

duck face selfie! and one of my most favorite people I've met, Sister Akau from Kiribati, Kiribati people are so awesome!
Sis A in our traditional Ifugao tribal hats
tradiontional Ifugao women...they're so cute, right?!