February 3, 2014

Life As A Real Missionary...Part#27

Dearest Family,

I have thought of you all often today, as I realize you are all gathered at the Zunk's house eating American foods, watching American football, and speaking all sorts of words in "American." Hahaha! I assumed I would be more homesick on Superbowl Sunday than on Christmas! but, I am okay. Haha, just another p-day here in the Philippines. Let me know how the game goes! Tell the Zunk's I say hi. How are they? How is KZ? I haven't heard from her at all! Is she married or something?
What is new for the week?! I hope you are all having fun gathered together and screaming at the television. Oh, I do miss football. Nobody here even really knows what that is. But, to Bowen's pleasure, the Filipinos love basketball. I am constantly updated on what is happening with the NBA, and it doesn't look good for the Jazz, apparently. (:

This week has been good, nothing too crazy. The people here in Concepcion are much more "hard-hearted" than those in my other areas.  Not quite as humble.  No one has much time to listen to us.  This place is crawling with less-active members! We will OYM people on the street, and they always say, "oo, alam ko sisters. member ako date." Meaning, "yes I know sisters. I USED to be a member. " We respond with "date po? hindi, ngayon din po?" or "before or are you still?" Alot of these people did not understand what it meant when they got baptized. They thought because they picked a church, and were baptized, they are now saved! This makes my insides hurt, because I know how severe their fate will be if they don't come back and how much happiness they are missing from not partaking fully of the gospel! Oh goodness, there is so much work to do here, and just not enough hours in the day to do it! I just wish I could shake these people and wake them up and help them remember their covenants and make them want to come back to church and live the gospel to its fullest!!!!!

But, I guess that's not really how the Lord's plan works does it?

As for investigators, our only February baptism fell through (discouraging). Her name is Justine, she is only 11 years old.  Her aunt is an active member and has been bringing her to church for awhile. She loves it! She loves the youth and the primary classes! She is SO smart, and has maturity way beyond any 11 year old I know. We have been teaching her, and she was really excited about her baptism. Then last week, we got a text saying, "sisters, I can't be baptized." We had no idea what happened, so we dropped everything and went straight to her house. We tried to talk to her, but she didn't say much to us. When I asked her what happened, she just started crying. BAWLING actually, with big tears. Yeeeeesh, I had no idea what to do! I was seeking inspiration from above, but nothing came to us. All we could do was hug her and tell her that we love her.  We reminded her that everything was her choice, and we were not trying to force her and Heavenly Father loved her no matter what. We have not had any contact since. This makes me sad.  :( The bishop talked to her aunt and I guess her father, who is a strong Baptist, told her he wants her to be a Baptist, not a Mormon. So, we are allowed to keep teaching her, but we don't know if she will be able to be baptized. It's a hard situation. My heart hurts.  I pray that her father will soften his heart to his daughter and that Justine will still have that desire to be baptized.

As for Brother Ocampo, we have not been able to teach him at all this week. he was out of town, then he was busy with work. It works a lot different here, people don't really set appointments, because they just forget them. Ha! So we just have to go to them and hope they are home and not busy.  He has been busy so, nothing this week. Which is really hard. However, we did see him in town yesterday and he said he had been reading the Book Of Mormon. So that is awesome! We are still nervous about the Law Of Chastity lesson. We decided the approach we needed to take was teach Lesson 3 (Courtney will know what that is or maybe you remember from Preach My Gospel) first. This lesson is all about faith, and repentance, and believing in Christ. Hopefully that will help him develop the faith he needs in order to make a life changing decision.

Other than that, this week has been kind of hard. Sometimes it is really hard to see the outcome of our efforts, and we feel like we go a whole day and don't really accomplish anything other than walking a hundred miles. I can be hard on myself, and get frustrated when I don't get immediate results (you know, my inborne Thomas syndrome), but I am learning a lot about patience. I am learning that sometimes, we won't always get to see the results of our labors until the next life. However, Heavenly Father knows our hearts. If our hearts are centered on doing his work, that is all He asks. I wish we were able to teach more lessons.  We only taught 20 this week!

My testimony of the Atonement has grown so much. This process of repentance and cleansing the inner vessel has been really good for me. I realized that I have spent a lot of time in my life, "repenting," but not really changing. Not ever really allowing Christ and the wonderful Atonement to heal my heart and change my desires. But, that is what He is doing now. I procrastinated my ability to really understand the power of the Atonement and for that I feel horrible. But how wonderful it is that our Savior never gives up on us. Everyday, Satan tries to convince me that I am not worthy or good enough. He tries to convince me that I will never make it to the end. But, when I pray for strength, the Lord fills my mind with thoughts of hope! Yes, I have made mistakes! and I still make them and I have many more to make throughout my life, but how joyous to have the Atonement so that we CAN receive the glory of our Father and the lift burden of sin and imperfections.  I never want to be the same person I was.  I want to be better.  I have written in my journal what I will do to make sure I continue to improve and use the Atonement in my life. I promised the Lord that I will obey and strive to become a worthy advocate and hard working missionary. I feel like a new person on the inside. I just wanna run down the streets of Concepcion screaming "HALLELUJAH CONCEPCION! COME UNTO CHRIST. WOOOOOOOOOO!" Unfortunately, I don't think that would be a very good idea. I guess I will settle with just OYM'ing and teaching. But I will be the best teacher I can be!

I hope all is well at home. I pray for you all constantly. Tell Hannah good luck from me! I am excited for her and she will make an awesome Betty Paris. I hope she has a lot of fun at Sweethearts. She will be gorgeous as usual in her 20's attire. Tell courtney she is amazing and I know she will make a great Gospel Doctrine teacher, and future Social Worker. Tell Bowen I love his sweet heart and he is the best little brother any girl could ever want. Goodness, his Instagram post that you shared with me brought tears to my eyes. I love that kid. Tell him to be good and to do good things.
I love all of my family.  I can feel the prayers and support of my cousins, aunts, and grandparents.  Family is amazing!

I love you all! Here's to another week. Remember the beautiful people of Concepcion in your prayers!

All my love,
Sister Thomas

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