December 9, 2013

Life As A Real Missionary...Part #19

dearest family,

kumusta kayo? as for me, masaya ako. sobra. so guess what? i got transferred!  not my!  i was absolutely devastated at first. i love Camiling and all the people there. it was so hard to say goodbye! nanay francesca and nanay cecilia CRIED! oh my gosh. they wrapped me up in big grandma hugs and sobbed. i was taken by surprise!  i wasn't prepared for the tears.  i cried too, an ugly cry, it wasn't pretty.  it was an amazing experience. they thanked me for loving them and visiting them even though they are poor and old.  they were grateful that the Lord hadn't forgotten them.  my heart was so touched. i couldn't even believe how much love i felt in those moments with them. i never imagined i could love people this much. my first transfer as a missionary, super difficult.  does it ever get easier?

saying goodbye to nanay cecilia and sister virgie was so hard for me. but, they both promised me they would stay active and stay strong.  they promised me a temple trip next October. sister virgie asked me to be her escort and cecilia said if she lives that long...she will be at the temple and i will have to  help her walk her through the doors.  i can't wait for next Oct. they are both so amazing and so prepared. they are truly special daughters of God. (i mean that in a good way, not the "special " way.) i pray so hard that they follow through on their promise and next year i will be able to see them endowed in the temple. i have never desired anything more in my life. keep them in your prayers

anyways, my new area is a huge city called Cabanatuan. i will refer to it as Cab for short.  this place is HUGE! Camiling was awesome, but mostly bukid area (farmland). this is definitely a city.  it has like 4 malls. HUGE MALLS! bonus for me! the stores have american products and good food and  cute clothes. oh no.... i have been trying so hard to watch what i eat and lose some weight..... this is going to put a huge dent on my skinny plans. hahaha! i am excited to explore the city a bit after sending and reading emails today.

my new companion is sister altea.  she is filipino and she is amazing. i love her so much. from the first moment we were introduced, we just clicked! she is 26 years old and the only member in her family. she is out here all on her own. there is no support. she doesn't get letters or emails.  i can't believe how strong she is. last september, both her father and her uncle died, and she stayed in the mission field. she stuck it out! she really has a desire to be here and to share the Gospel.  her testimony is strong and her faith is unwavering. oh my goodness. i love her. i feel privileged to be her companion. she likes to work, work, work, so we will be busy!

also, we are OPENING AN AREA. grabbbbiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. the president sent us both here to open an area that was closed over a  year ago.  i don't know the first thing about opening an area! we are missionaries for ward 6. they just split this area and so now we have two elders and two sisters. our area is 6B. all four of us are brand new to this area. in fact, our new DL is from the Tacloban mission! he survived typhoon yolanda! his name is Elder Keates and he is from Utah. he learned a different language for the Tacloban missioni, not tagalog! so he is studying so hard to catch up and speak tagalog! he has only been here two weeks, but his tagalog is awesome! what a winner. haha! we are going to pretty much rock this area.

this area was closed a year ago and so our area book has absolutely nothing. i guess the sisters that were here before hated each other and hardly worked.  they were not serving honorably.  infact, they  pulled them out of this area, closed it and both of the sisters were sent home because one of the sisters punched the other one in the face. soooooo. yeah. apparently, that is pretty much how the work here went, with lots of conflict and anger.  the ward did not like them much and they never taught.   the ward is so eager for missionaries and they are happy to get some new faces! haha we have so much to do.  it is going to be challenging.  there is no information in our area book, and no new investigators. so we have just been hitting the streets and finding like crazy. it is hard, but the Lord is truly blessing us through our faithfulness and our efforts. we already have new investigators on board for baptism this month! can you believe that? the Lord is truly working miracles through us and it is the most amazing feeling in the world. when i work with the Lord and do it His way, instead of my way, i can feel the miracles and i can feel His love manifesting through me. i can't believe i ever tried to live life my way and without leaning on the Lord. it is so much more rewarding and i feel so much more happiness when i do it His way.  when i allow Him to work through me, the work cannot be stopped. opening this area with its many challenges is going to be difficult.  the president has asked us to do a hard task, but we are enjoying it and having fun starting new. i know the Lord will bless us if we continue to be obedient and work, work, work.  i am excited to work with the members and hopefully with their help we can build the kingdom in ward 6!

BONUS! we have another beautiful house!  It's not pink, but it's sooooooo nice!  the house is the former residence of senior couple missionaries. my companion and i share it with two other awesome sisters. get this, there is an OVEN, and a MICROWAVE, and A HOT SHOWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! are you kidding? no more bucket showers for me!  I am living the dream. i have really missed a good shower!  I don't have to bathe with a bucket!  i'm like really clean now and my toes are clean and my hair too! hahahahaha!

hahahaha...i love your pictures of the storm.  look at all that snow! that is crazy! it is getting even hotter here, and it is snowing buckets there. it's so strange how different it is. Christmas, however, is universal. there are lights and christmas music and santa statues everywhere! this is the filipino's favorite holiday. they LOVE it. every employee in every store is in a santa uniform now. haha i love it. it is so great. it makes me smile.

i am glad everyone is busy and happy. mom, the trees look amazing as usual. Christmas at our house is always an occasion, and i love that. please remember to enjoy the season. read Christmas stories. sing Christmas songs. it only comes once a year. (:  most importantly, remember our Savior and honor his birth!  that's the reason for the season.

i miss you all. and i can't wait to see you on Christmas, skype is a wonderful thing. i will skype on what will be Dec. 26th for me but it will be Christmas night for you. there is a 15 hour time difference, so i am trying to make it convenient for you. what time is good on christmas night for you? our schedule is pretty open, so let me know. anytime between 5:00 and 7:00 PM utah time is good for me. cause that is between 8:00 and 10:00 AM in the philippines. let me know. it will be exciting!

i love you all! keep praying and loving each other. have a wonderful holiday season! i am working hard for all of  you! 

mahal ko kayo lahat!

-sister thomas

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