April 7, 2014

Life As A Real Missionary...Part #36

Pamilya Thomas!

kumusta kayo?? sobrang masaya ako kaci, PDAY!!!! (: hahaha.

Actually, this week has been a bit better. I have really prayed to the Lord for help in not letting people's comments hurt me so much and thankfully, I have not heard one person say anything negative this week. It has been really relaxing. Haha...you all know, as I do, that this has been a life long challenge for me.  The negative criticism tends to wear me down and I know it will continue to do so. But I feel a new inner strength when I really pray for help in seeing myself the way Heavenly Father sees me. I don't know why I didn't do this earlier. But, I am doing it now and it seems to be working, either that or I'm just developing a really thick layer of skin. Hahaha.  Anyway, thank you, mom and dad for helping me. Griffin Harris has some really good insight that I will take to heart. I love the Harris family. I am going to focus more on everyone else and less on myself. I still have a long way to go, but I know I will receive the strength I need if I ask.

The Women's Meeting was absolutely amazing. We are a week delayed on the meetings, we won't see conference until next weekend.  I loved having the newly baptized 8 year old girls in attendance.  They have such a special spirit with them. I believe the Lord is strengthening his army at this time. I could feel the strength as all the women testified of the power of keeping covenants. There is nothing I want more than this for myself and for the people here in the Philippines! As hard as it is for some of the members to be covenant keepers, I know how amazing they are and that they can do it.  I work hard at helping them to see and understand for themselves why this Gospel is so essential to happiness and to realize the influence they have over their families and friends.

As for those who are trying to re-define the role of the Priesthood in our lives, they need to read the following...
“In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. … In the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife.”
That quote is by Elder Russel M. Ballard. Never in my life have I heard someone define the roles of men and women so beautifully. They need to read this and remember their sacred responsibilities as women in the Church and in the world. Satan is going to try and destroy us from the inside out, just like he did to the Church before. The sisters in the Church all over the world need to decide who they are and remember the worth and power bestowed upon them.

The work is going well.  Our week was productive.  Our numbers increased this week, which was really a stress reliever for me. We taught many more lessons and have some great investigators.  Our member finding activity was successful.  The members really showed up and supported us.  We have more members willing to work with us now because it is summer vacation and so they are a lot less busy. WHAT A BLESSING!  Seriously. I have been praying for help to get the members involved and the activity seemed to be a way to get everyone excited about missionary work.

We are still struggling with finding right now because of the time of year. Holy Week is soon approaching.  This makes me more and more nervous. People have told me that the streets literally flood with the blood of those who sacrifice themselves.  Traditions run thick and this type of celebration is both religious and family tradition.

Of course, there are troubles with less-active members. The Cumuyog family, the ones who have that darling baby that I send pictures of all the time, are recent converts of just over a year. I love this little family so much.  They have been so strong! They go to church every Sunday and they read the scriptures together and they have FHE.  We have been working with them on temple preparation and I have been so excited for them to be sealed as a family in the temple! However, this week we have discovered a problem.  The dad is drinking again. This news broke my heart into pieces, literally! Not only is he drinking, he drinks every single day.  It breaks my heart because he really has a beautiful testimony! His wife is really struggling because she wants to be sealed to her family in the temple so badly but they can't be unless her husband is able to deal with his drinking. He has been spending all of their money, which is very little, on alcohol. He goes out and drinks while his children eat nothing but ramen noodles every single day. Last night, on our way home, we actually found Tatay at someone's house, drunk. It took all the self-control I had in me to not storm over there and give him a piece of my mind.  I know he is struggling but he is letting everyone down and he needs to be a better leader!  He has it in him to lead his famly and be a leader in the Church.  Errrggg!  These Filipino men are going to drive me to insanity.  Hahaha!  His wife has asked us for help.  We have let the bishop know so he can help this family.  We will continue to teach them temple preparation lessons and visit their home.  Please pray for this special family.

But, on the bright side, Irene and Aaron are doing awesome! They are active and really getting involved in the ward. Tonight we organized a FHE activity at a member's house with Irene and some other YSA's in the ward. We are going to watch "The Testament" and have a testimony meeting afterwards. Sister Bytes is hosting and making dinner for everyone.  We have the treats for afterwards.  I am really excited! I am praying that the Spirit will touch her heart and help her to continue to endure in the Gospel as well as that of the other YSA members.  They face so many challenges as members of the Church in this area. Especially because many of them are the only members in their families and circle of friends.

You are right. Some days in the mission field are SO hard. Some days are just hot, miserable, and full of rejection. There are days when I feel like I can't do it anymore. There are moments where I feel completely useless and wish I was back in the comfort of my home in the States. There are moments when I am crying tears of frustration because nobody is listening or seems to care about the message we have.  But then, the Lord sends his tender mercies upon us. We are blessed with cloud cover for more than five minutes to shade us from the sun. We give a lesson that is so incredibly amazing that my heart feels like bursting. We are given the opportunity to OYM (Open Your Mouth) to an individual who shows real interest in learning more. We are truly blessed when the Lord sends the "ice cream man" in our direction and he offers us free ice cream because our name tags bear Christ's name (yes, that really happened!).  Little things or moments. Those are what we need to continue to recognize in our lives. They are all around us. We just need to stop and see them.  We need to learn from and most importantly, appreciate them.

I love this Gospel, and this work. It is SO hard.  But yet each miraculous moment we experience makes every hard day or week worth the effort.  I have never been more challenged in my entire life. But, maybe that is part of why I love it so much. When has a Thomas ever said "no" to a challenge?  You know me and the "competitive streak" that runs through my veins.

I love you all! (: Have another great week! I will keep you in my prayers!  The gospel is true!

Sister Thomas

What we ate for Zone PDay Activity Lunch!  I found hair in my pork!  Haha!

Smallest banana ever! 

I need to eat at least two of them to feel full!  Yummy!

I love her!!

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