Sunday, March 9, 2014

March 9, 2014

I really have the stupidest titles to all of my emails. But you guys don't know what it means so that's okay. Anyways, I loved all of your emails this week. I can't believe Lindsey is pregnant!!!! She hasn't even been home from her mission for a year! What?! And crazy about all the stuff going on with the family. So many changes. Dad's story totally stressed me out! Man, I can't imagine the stress, well, actually I can, that's why I was stressed reading it. But I'm so glad everything is okay and that Dad is such a good example of integrity.
This week was good, hard too. Ryan asked what the hardest thing is on the mission and what I'm doing to overcome it. For me, at least this week, the hardest thing is being stripped from everything and really having to rely on the Lord. Even though I've been good my whole life and I'm a missionary now, I am finding more weaknesses in myself than I have in my whole life. I have such high expectations for myself and this work, but it's impossible for me to reach them. I have to completely humble myself, forget myself, and rely on the Lord. For my whole life, if a teacher would give me an assignment, I would complete it with exactness. I could do everything the teacher required of me. But here, our mission president requires exact obedience, a baptism a week, very high key indicators, etc. Things I cannot reach. I've never had that before. I've always been able to reach my goal. But here it literally is impossible to do it by myself, no matter how hard I study or how hard I work. This week I was getting stressed over the littlest things: key indicators, less active lessons, getting to lessons on time, finishing lessons on time, spending too much money (because sister laulu loves to spend money ), eating healthy, being fed too much by everyone, being called fat three times a day (not an exaggeration), having to wait for Sister Laulu to finish getting ready, etc (she tests my patience big time) Anyway, so much stress, and on top of that, criticism of my language, my stress, my attitude. It is so hard to have a good attitude with that much stress. And it truly is so hard to humble yourself in that moment to ask for help in prayer and rely on the Lord. But there truly is no one else to go to out here. That's what's so awesome about a mission. You are stripped of everything: your family, your friends, comfort, distraction, freedom to do whatever, etc. Whatever we usually do when we're down back home. There is no distraction here, no freedom to go see a movie, no family members to bring you up. It's just you working out your weaknesses with the Lord. And it's awesome and awful at the same time. Last night I prayed for two hours (well kind of slept-prayed, I was tired); I didn't want to go to bed until I had changed my attitude. Finally Mosiah 3:19 came to mind. "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man..." So all I needed to do was yield, and stop, and everything would be okay. So I went to bed. Woke up still ornery, haha. Just ornery in myself and my stupid weaknesses, stuff that I shouldn't be struggling with. But during personal study I read 2 Nephi 4:17-35. Go ahead, get the Book of Mormon and read it all together. It really helped me because I was feeling just like Nephi, just hating myself for my weaknesses. As I read, the Spirit helped me to soften my heart, and I felt as Nephi did by the end. Rejoice, all is well, praise God, do not droop in sin. So all is well. There is so much to learn on the mission.
So enough of that. This week was so awesome and miracles happened. I will just tell one right now. So while we're on our way to one of our appointments, we see our relief society president on her way home. She invites us over to her house. We're like sweet, free food, why not? While there she tells us that she saw a less active in our ward just last night. He had come back from Cebu. She said that she really misses him at church because he used to play the piano and sing and everyone loved him. We decided to change our schedule and visit him right then. He wasn't at his house though so we just set up an appointment. Instead of following our plan, I felt prompted to visit someone else, so we changed our course and ran into someone we had met earlier and decided to share with her. We knew she had a Law of Chastity problem so we shared that with her. That was exactly what she needed, she bawled. She just needed to know that she was a beautiful daughter of God and stop her ways. Anyway, that visit lasted an hour, so we didn't even have time to go to the other person but the prompting was just so that we'd be in the right place at the right time. Soon after that, we ran into the less active we were trying for find earlier. His name is Brian and he's a returned missionary that had a Law of Chastity problem so he stopped going to church for like five years because of embarrassment. We had a good conversation with him, told him how much everyone missed him, and said we'd visit tomorrow. So next day, we pick up a recent convert to join us for a couple lessons. It was really random, but we felt like it would be good for him to do some missionary work. The lesson with Brian was really spiritual. I shared about Alma 42 - how this time is probation, time to repent. We are the natural man because of the fall. We are imperfect, we make mistakes, but it's okay because we have the Atonement. Anyway, spiritual lesson that he needed. Then while Sister Laulu was sharing, (about who knows, I don't understand how she ties everything together, I'm always lost) I had the thought to share something with him; but I was a little scared because it was a little awkward to say, but I followed the prompting and said it. I told him that out of all of the people I've met here in the Philippines, he is the closest one to my heart, because he reminds me so much of Ryan. He's like my brother here in the Philippines. And it kills me so much so see him suffer because of this mistake because I just remember that summer that killed me with Ryan. I showed the picture of our family and told him that this May Ryan is getting married in the temple to a wonderful, spiritual, beautiful girl that God helped him to find. After that lesson, Brian texted us that thanked us for teaching by the spirit. He said it really touched him that we felt the closest to him. After that he told us it's time to return. He even wants to work with us. He had a dream last week that he had the opportunity to serve a mission again and when he saw Michael (the recent convert who joined us) he that that's how he can do it, serve with us. He came to church last sunday  and told us that when he goes to work in Cebu, the temple is only 10 minutes away from where he lives. He will go to church and prepare for the temple. It's so awesome!!! And I totally treat him like a brother too. I am so happy for him! Anyway, that whole experience was a miracle. God is very aware of all of his children.
Ok, Ryan asked what food I miss. Olive Garden. anything baked. tomatoes. yeah.
What else? Oh! I have family home evening for you guys. So everyone read King Benjamin's speech on your own scripture study time then discuss insights during FHE. I spent the entire week dissecting this speech. It is so good. Mosiah 4:2-3. While reading the speech, try to find out what it was that Benjamin said to cause them to feel this way. If we read the speech with the spirit, we too will feel as they did, and see our own carnal state. I got to this part and realized I was missing something because I didn't feel as they did, so I went back and read it again, and again, and again. There is so much. Read it slow. We truly are nothing and owe everything to our creator. 
Anyway, that's pretty much it for now. It was a good and hard week. But I'm learning so much, growing so much. Thank you so much for all of your prayers. It is what's carrying me through my mission. I hope my service continues to bless you, I am always praying for you. I love you all and will talk to you next week!
Love, Sister Watkins

March 2, 2014

So we had transfers this week. I thought I was going to get transferred because I've been in the area for three months. But no, last week Sister Dequina got the call, she got transferred to Escelante, Cebuano speaking. hahaha. It's perfect. She was started to get bored and trunky. So President makes her learn a new language. hahaha. I'm really glad I'm staying though. It stressful to have to move around, get to know a new place. So now I'm leading the area for a while with my new companion. And my new companion, oh my. Everyone in the mission knows her. When I found out I was going to be with her and I told other people, they all said "have patience sister, a lot of patience. it's only for one transfer" So I was a little worried at first, but then I met her, and I absolutely love her. I understand why she bugs everyone, and yeah, she really bugs me too, but I love her, and kind of don't love her at the same time. She's Samoan and soooooooooooooooooo talkative. She was talking to me all last night. I didn't listen to a word she said because I was so tired. She's like watching a youtube video all the time. Her personality is very different. Kind of like Glozel (on youtube) when she tells stories. So I'm going to be exhausted this transfer from listening to her. She is also lazy sometimes. And very dramatic. She got a little cold one day and we had to go to the doctor and go home and she stayed home the entire next day. Because her nose was runny. So I spent the entire Thursday night trying to find relief society to come to the house and ward missionaries to work with me so I could keep working. It was a total miracle the way it worked out. I prayed so hard that we would find a way - and it was so crazy and so stressful, but it worked, with shifts. When I came home that day, there were two relief society from our ward, two from another, and they were all like totally partying. Cleaning the house, cooking food, running around playing with the little girl. It was a great opportunity for them to serve. 
Anyway, she's crazy. It's going to be a transfer where I learn a lot. Patience, endurance... Sister Laulu also did Shakespeare in school so we both have theater background. That helps us bond a lot. That's probably why I can get along with her. She's like a crazy theater Polynesian. 
I've learned so much from drama that's really coming into handy now. haha.
It actually hasn't been raining lately. It's been getting hotter though. We've been getting more water for our emergency water supply. They think it's going to be a rough summer, really hot. 
I love getting all of your emails by the way. It's so awesome to hear what's going on back home, the spiritual progression, your daily lives. I've been forced to grow up here (but don't worry Emily, I'm still a kid). I just moved out of the house to another country. No big deal. 
Well, I don't have any awesome stories, and my picture didn't send, so sorry this is lame. But maybe next time I can start sending scriptures and stuff for family home evening :D Next week I'll try to do better at writing spiritual experiences too. Anyway, love you all! Palangga ko kamo! Makita-ay kita dason tuig. haha.
Love, Sister Watkins
P.S. I love when you send pictures. I print them and look at them when I'm lonely... or just for fun. haha
Sugar Ants!

February 23, 2014

The weeks are so fast! Thank you so much for the package! I love everything in it! The snacks, the underclothes :) haha, the cards and puzzles, and the pictures. I loved the pictures. I didn't know some of those existed. I can tell Emily picked all those out. She sends all the ugly ones of me. My favorite is the Mexican one with our hats off. Soooo ugly. But it really made my day. I still look at those and laugh. Sometimes when you're out here, doing the same thing everyday, you forget what you were like before. It was good to remind myself what I freak I am. Thanks for that!
Let's see, what happened this week?
1. There's this really creepy investigator in Home for the Blind. We taught him once because he was listening in on another lesson and seemed interested. Now every time he sees us, he follows us and just joins every lesson in Home for the Blind uninvited. Everyone knows each other there so I guess it's fine, but it's so weird. We walk in and he just follows. And he only ever says my name. He's like, "Maayong hapon sister Watkins" no Sister Dequina. And when we invited him to church, "Can Sister Watkins come pick me up for church?" So creepy! And he looks creepy with dreadlocks. So we always try to lose him when he starts following us. We walk fast then run as soon as we turn the corner. That happened Saturday night. We were going to Home for the Blind for an appointment, but the family was in the middle of eating. On the way there we saw him, but his back to us. So we quietly snuck past him. Then one of the little kids yelled "Kanak!" which means American. So we're like crap, now he knows. So without looking back we just started walking fast down the street. 
When we got halfway down we looked behind us and he was there, at the beginning of the street walking as fast as he could without running. AHH! So we booked it when we turned the corner and ran to a member's home. He's so creepy! But everyone says in Home for the Blind that he's so nice. So maybe he is and just really wants the gospel...
2. I got pooped on by a bat during one of our lessons. It was gross. It pooped on my skirt and peed in my hair. I couldn't see it but it was up sleeping in one of the trees. So fun. That's the second time that's happened!
3. So I've learned here that soda makes me kind of sick. They always give us coke at the meals and I used to feel a little sick at the beginning of my mission because I usually never have soda. I was always bubbly and bloated. So I finally cut soda out and feel much better. But this week one of our investigators (really poor) decided to be really nice and buy us both a half a liter of coke and expected us to finish it while at his house. I finished it and just prayed that I wouldn't get sick. Sister Dequina tried to be sneaky and dump hers out. I think they noticed though. Why would the ground be wet right underneath her? Unless she peed... Sometimes, some people just don't think. Then at another house they gave us a whole big glass of sprite. So much soda! But I think I was blessed to not get sick and not have to go to the bathroom before I went home. It's crazy, the simple little blessings we receive here. 
4. I ate a guava. It was disgusting. It wasn't the pink kind. And I didn't like it.
5. I played the piano at the funeral and all went well. Even when the musical number violinist opens his hymnbook and points to a hymn and asks me to play it - in the middle of the meeting. That doesn't freak me out. Gosh. I really should have practiced more before I left. Oh well. It turned out all right. I just sight read it and played only half of the left hand notes. Tell Emily to keep practicing the piano. It will come in handy!
6. Huge spider was running around in our house. It was running towards my feet and I kind of screamed and ran. Then used to the broom to get it out. They are so big here!! Then a huge huge bee flew into our house. I'll try to send a picture of it. All the bugs here are so big!
That's about it. I love you all and hope this week was fun to read. I'll talk to you all next week! have a good sunday night!
Love, Sister Watkins

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 16, 2014

It's getting hard to think of things to write now because the weeks are just going by so fast now. It feels like yesterday was just P-Day. It's always so busy here. 
So this week we were nowhere near our numbers. By saturday we only had two lessons with a member present. We needed 20 by sunday. So we had a one day mission with the ward members and went on splits. That day, together with my lessons and Sister Dequina's, we had 19 lessons, 15 of which counted toward the member present. I was so exhausted when I came home that I went to bed at 9:00. Then yesterday we had four more lessons, so we reached our goal! We also had 6 investigators come to church. Last week we didn't have any. And we weren't even expecting them to come to church. But they did, and it was awesome. 
So when I write emails, what do you want to know? More about my investigators, more stories, more about the culture? I don't know what's fun to read and what's just boing. haha. 
So I've noticed I'm getting a little "dense" here. (That was for Amber.) Every time a member sees me they say "Sister Watkins, tambok ka (you're fat) or mangin dako ka (you are becoming big)". There's this one sister that that's all she says to me. Every time she sees me, she calls me fat. I've never heard so many fat jokes in my life. It's the culture here to say stuff like that all the time. It's not offensive here. But I am going to try to find a way to eat less at the member's houses. They kind of make you keep eating. You don't just dish up your plate and finish. You dish it up, eat it, dish it up again, eat it, and dish again, until the whole meal is gone from the table. Maybe I'll just eat slower and made Sister Dequina eat all of it. The Filipinos here can eat soooo much and not gain any weight. Anyway, I'll try to send a picture of my density. haha. (who's the fat one now Emily?! I win."
So funny story, kind of, kind of gross. Yesterday at church during class, our investigator is taking the shoes off of her baby so he can run around and not fall (he's not used to shoes so he can't balance in them) and when she takes one off, two cockroaches fall out of it. It's normal. Just finding two cockroaches hangin' out in your shoe. She just steps on them to kill them and kicks them under her chair. haha. After church I went ahead and cleaned them up. She's really poor so she lives with cockroaches and is used to them. We found a huge cockroach in our house the other day. Man they run fast. It's so funny trying to get them out of the house. We use the broom, but usually that doesn't work and it starts running towards our feet so we all scream and run while Sister Grohse (the Samoan) just goes over and steps on it. Oh what a life! This morning the drain smelled so bad that I took a bucket shower outside again. 
I think that's all I have for this week, I'm going to try to send some pictures now! Love you all so much!
Love, Sister Watkins

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 9, 2014

Hello. Happy Birthday Dad and Amber tonight. Tell Amber I hope she gets feeling better soon and to take it easy! I wrote a letter to Dad and Amber and sent it this week, so you might get it sometime next month. Haha. When Maegan wrote me a letter it took 6 weeks to get here. 
So, yeah. What happened this week? We had a baptism on Saturday, which was awesome. I gave the talk and the musical number. I always give the musical number. By the time I come home I'll probably know every song in the hymn book. Funny moment at the baptism. So our investigator goes out into the hall to go into the font, we realize that we don't have a picture with him yet so we chase after him to take a quick picture. The Elders realize they didn't take a picture with their investigator either so they run out to do the same (two people getting baptized). Bishop and our investigator get in the water and bishop starts. I realize something is not right: there are no witnesses. I try to stop Bishop "Bishop, bishop, hulat lang! Hulat! Wa'ay witnesses" He doesn't listen and keeps going. I run out and grab Elder Cannon and drag him in. He sees our investigator go all the way under. I guess that counts here. President Lopez says that when things like that happens, just forgive them. It would have been worse had we told bishop to do it again, he would have been humiliated and gotten defensive. So we just let it go. The church is still developing here. The Bishops are still learning. Just this past week we got cushions on our benches, it was so weird. Yesterday during relief society, I realized that I missed the relief society rooms back home. The soft chairs, carpet, nice walls. We have no idea what we have back home. I never knew what a blessing it was to have such a developed, organized church where people know what they're doing. 
Last week during the Sacrament hymn, the piano played one song while the congregation sang another. It's one of those hymns where there's two tunes to the same hymn. Apparently they only knew one of them, so they sang the one they knew while the piano played the other. I tried to help them get back on track, but it didn't work. So I just waited until it was over. It was... pretty gloomy. 
We didn't have any investigators at church yesterday. It's hard when that happens because that moves everyone's baptism date another month. They have to go to church 4 times in a row in order to qualify for baptism. President still wants us to get a baptism every week, that hasn't happened yet in this area, but we're trying. It's so hard to balance everything: finding 18 new investigators every week, teaching them, teaching our other investigators, helping them get to church, helping them progress, getting to know all of our ward members, finding all of our ward members using a list that's not updated that has no addresses. We're pretty busy here. The time is starting to fly by for me. I can't believe it's P-Day again. 
Anyway, sorry I don't have anything too crazy and interesting to write this week. Both Sister Dequina and I are exhausted today, we'll probably take a little nap later. Next week I'll try to send some pictures and stuffs. The person behind me is watching a really inappropriate show behind me with soooo many swear words so I'm trying to finish as fast as I can. I have not heard those words in a long time and I don't think they understand how offensive they are. Oh my gosh, every other word is the bad F word! Ah! Anyway I love you all and I'm getting out of here. 
Love you all! Love, Sister Watkins