I am going to start off with a story from this week. It truly was a miracle. Thursday was zone conference, the last zone conference with President and Sister Martino. Sister Martino had my mail and I was finally able to get BOTH of packages you sent to me. Thank you so much for everything! Oh my goodness, it was so amazing to feel so much love from home. It is amazing how much love those boxes have, my heart always melts when I open them and look inside. Anyway, earlier last week my companion and I were struggling so BAD. She really likes to spend the days telling me everything she doesn't like about me, which is a lot of things! She complains about everything and still has a hard time with obedience. She is upset about not being made a senior companion and is grumpy. Nothing I tried was working, she didn't want to get along and I was feeling lost as to how to fix it. President Martino was aware of my situation (I think he feels bad for keeping me with her until she finishes her mission), and although he had SO many missionaries that wanted to meet with him after zone conference (it was his last one!) he made time to see me. I explained everything and asked for his counsel. For the first time in my mission, I saw a speechless, President Martino. He has tried so many times to counsel with my companion over the last 12+ months and nothing has seemed to work, he honestly didn't know what to do either. So we knelt and prayed together. After the prayer both sets of our eyes were immediately drawn to the two giant packages from Lehi, Utah with my name on them. We both knew that there was something in them that would help fix the situation. That was not the counsel I was expecting. However, it really was a powerful moment for me and President Martino.
Later that night when I opened the packages, I found that the ward Relief Society had sent a big bag of STUFF! In that bag of STUFF was a package of Ramen noodles. No joke, my companion's face lit up when she saw the Ramen! She loves Ramen noodles, apparently, so, I offered the Ramen noodles to her. She was shocked. She was like, "really?" And I was like, "yeah, no big deal." Hahaha! That was the most peaceful conversation she has offered me in several days. She happily took the Ramen and I am not kidding, since that night everything has changed!!!! I mean, we still have our differences at times but her verbal abuses have faded and she and I have actually laughed together. What?! It has been a miracle. A true miracle found in a box from home and with a pack of Ramen noodles. THANK YOU Lehi 20th Ward Relief Society sisters. You all probably had no idea what that pack of Ramen noodles would mean to me. I am forever grateful!
Caterine was not able to be baptized. The problem is her paperwork was not able to be corrected without paying an expensive fee and she doesn't have the funds for that. Legal papers and marriage are SO expensive here. This country makes it so hard to get married... and then divorce is legal and cheap. It's like they don't want people to get married!!!
We are praying for ward support on this one. All in all, it is like 460 pesos. Which is more than she makes in a month as a laundry lady. I think if we can help her to earn and sacrifice paying half of the fee, the ward will pitch in and help with the other half. She has made a lot of friends in the ward! If everyone donates 10 pesos, we would have more than enough. I just hate asking that of people who have so little to begin with. It's ironic, however,... those are the ones who are the most willing to help and give most times.
That is my week in a nutshell. Hahaha...amazing right? I can't believe how one tiny act of service was able to soften a heart. It stregthened my testimony of the power of prayer and service. I have been endlessly praying for a softer and more understanding heart and for a way to help my companion. My "way" came and my prayers were answered from a box sent all the way from Lehi, Utah. There are still rough moments, however, I feel much more positive about the next FIVE weeks. Her release date is August 14th and her last day with me will be the 10th. Only a month and a few days left, I can do hard things!
Is June really over? Did my one year mark really come and go that fast? I don't know how to feel. There are parts of my heart that are excited to see everyone back home and get back into school but, so much of me can not even imagine life as a non- missionary. I can't imagine not seeing these beautiful people every single day and not sharing a message of hope and love. I have worked so hard to become a missionary, life as not being a missionary is hard to comprehend. No, mom, it has not cooled down a bit and the rain has not stopped. It continues to fall from the sky in huge amounts everyday. I find myself constantly drenched either from my sweat or the rain. Either way, I stink. I still scrub all of my clothes by hand, I still bathe with my bucket shower and live with scary bugs. But, this is my life and I don't remember being happier than I am right now.
I have a testimony that God can and is so willing to change our hearts if we are willing to humble ourselves and submit to Him. It's strange, I feel like I have sacrificed most of the things that I love and have worked hard for, to serve a mission. I thought those things made me, "me." However, I have never felt more like myself than I do now, as a missionary for the Lord. The work is true and through the challenges and the heartaches, He is there and I have found myself in Him.
All is well and is getting better here in the Philippines. I love you all. Have another great week. (:
-Sister Caitlin Thomas
|Goodbye Sister Martino! I love you with all of my heart!|
|Goodbye President Martino! You are one of the most amazing leaders ever!|
|Me with Sister Peralta and her greenie!|
|I love these sisters!|