Saturday, August 17, 2013


Mga pamilya at kaibegan ko-
First of all... I won the bachelor bracket!!! I called it! I won all the way from the Philippines. I knew it was Chris after one episode. So I expect a reward friends...
Anyway, this week was great! I had some of the best moments, and some of the worst, but the good times always make it worth it and make the hard times bearable. Toward the end of the week I always have a hard time. I am always so tired and I find myself really homesick, but Heavenly Father knows how far he can push me. Just when I think I can't make it- the Lord extends his hand and shows his mercy. I know I am becoming stronger and stronger each day and becoming the person I am meant to be. It is not easy, but it is soooo worth it. Alma 26:27 was my scripture for the week. I read it right when I needed some comfort.
So rewind back to last Monday. Such a good night! We had family home evening with the investigators of the other sisters in our apartment. So we went over with the bishop and his wife, the mission leader, and the relief society president and her husband and then us missionaries. We are thinking it is going to be just the one family. UM.. NO. Their whole Barangay- like a mini neighborhood, its like a grouping of homes- was there. Tons of kids and parents! They were so excited when we got there! It was deep in the jungle and so beautiful! They were all nonmembers. We had so much fun! We played tons of Filipino games, laughed, ate food and shared a message about faith with them. They were all so interested in the church and now the other Sisters have a while new barangay of investigators! While we were there the mission leader- Brother Roman aka the funniest person ever started dancing for everyone. It was halarious. He was just smiling and doing some filipino dance while everyone laughed. Those are the moments that make missions so great.
So this week we went to Ligao for exchanges. I love Ligao! It is so beautiful and just a happy place. I want it to be my next area so bad! I adore the sisters there. So when we got there on Tuesday, we had another family home evening with most of the missionaries in their district, a big investigator family, and the stake president and his family. It was so much fun! We played more crazy Filipino games and ate delicious food. My new favorite thing- dad you would like this. It is Filipino fruit salad. So you just cut up a bunch of fruit- we had pears, apples, mangoes, grapes, and bananas- then you add a can of condensed milk and a can of cream (I think- it's called something else, but i can't think of it). Not whipped though- its soupy and yummy. Try it this week!  Ligao was just happy. I loved all the people I was able to teach there. I went with one of the sisters to this older couple's house and I guess it is tradition whenever a new missionary comes there they have to sing for the Tatay. So yes, I had to sing all by myself. I hated it haha but it was funny. What else? I made a baby cry because I am white. She looked at me and then wouldn't stop crying for like 30 minutes. So that's good.
We had combined zone conference this week with Ligao. I got to see many people from my MTC district and hear some of their funny stories. I got to meet a lot of missionaries and that is always fun.
Mom, you would be so proud. I have started to cook and make your recipes. So last week I made your stir fry. Our apartment loved it! Then this week I got stuff to make the Lemon pasta recipe you gave me! and french toast. You can call me top chef. I always am the assistant chef to the Filipina sisters when we travel. I am trying to learn how to cook Filipino food. I need recipes though, they just throw it into the wok.
It is hard to talk about all the investigators we have. We teach so many lessons per week and have so many investigators, recent converts and less active members. Some of my favorite lessons from this week though are Jane and Alex. So Jane is someone that Sister Fienga met with her previous companion. She had said they could come back, but I guess wasn't really interested so we haven't gone back yet. We were close though and so we decided to stop by. What an amazing lesson! Her question for us was why are there so many churches? It was perfect because we had planned to teach the Restoration. She was so happy to have her question answered and said it made perfect sense. At the end of the lesson she said she was excited for us to come back and knew our message would make her family happy. We had many experiences like this throughout the week. We randomly decided to visit former investigators, or people who we met that didn't seem super interested because we were close and they were all so receptive! I am excited about the people we are teaching right now!  So Alex, she is someone who owns a tindahan that we walk by almost every day. We always talk with her, but hadn't taught her a lesson yet. We taught our first one on Friday. We taught the restoration and then invited her to be baptized on October 5th and she accepted! I am so excited for her! Then there is Manny! We will visit him tomorrow probably. We met him on Saturday. He was sitting on a rock not doing anything. We said hi to him and then just walked by...but then me and Sister Fienga looked at each other and went back to talk to him. We have him a pass along card and he was so excited. He was so interested in talking with us and wants us to come back and teach his family.  I just have a good feeling about him and am excited to teach him and his family about the gospel. He was such a happy person.
So yesterday our ward was filmed singing "Sister's in Zion" for a relief society project in Washington state. Some ward is getting footage of different countries singing and then they are putting it together. I am trying to have it sent to you mom and dad when it is done so you can see the relief society here! Then last night we went to bring Sister Nelson cake for her birthday (senior missionaries that live next door). They invited us in and we sat and talked with them for an hour. They are the nicest people ever! It was what I needed after a rough day.
Apparently we are having a typhoon right now, but I don't really get it. It is just rainy...but what else in new? A little more cloudy which is nice. Apparently it is Philippines "winter", but I am still sweating like none other while everyone puts on their sweaters, sweatshirts and even beanies. I don't get it. It is sooo hot.
Everyone here gets amazed when I speak Tagalog on jeepneys, triceys, to give directions, at the store, etc. It is funny. They just get wide eyes and say- you know tagalog? (in tagalog) haha it makes me feel good. I tell them conte lang. Then they usually start talking to me and I can barely understand them.  I am becoming a pro at directions and catching jeepneys and such though. haha It is harder than the New York City Subway.
That is my week! The time passes fast and I truly love it here! The people are so amazing and so loving! I love and miss all of you! Keep writing and keeping me updated on your lives!
-Sister Gardner
Birthday Party

Neighborhood Teaching Appointment

Mission Leader Brother Roman dancing

Sister Missionaries



Mga Pamilya at Kaibigan ko!
I can't believe it has been another week! The time is finally started to fly by! I can't believe that today is my 2 month mark! I know the time will keep flying and soon I will be wondering where it all went. This week was good for the most part! The past two days have been a little rough, but there were definitely still happy moments in those days. Many moments of growth that I am already thankful for. I don't even know how to describe how tired I am though- I really think I could easily fall asleep while walking and it is a struggle to stay awake during lessons and the biggest struggle to get up in the morning. I am hoping one day I will wake up energized- just hasn't happened yet.
So this week we traveled to Guino Batan for exchanges. I liked the area- but not as much as Legazpi. The people just didn't seem as loving and interested in our message. There is an American sister in Guino Batan and she made French Toast and Grilled Cheese for us! So some American Food was nice! While we were there I worked with two different Filipina Sisters. They were very nice...but teaching was SUCH a struggle. They talk super fast and use really deep words that I don't understand, so when they would look at me to talk I would have no clue what was even going on or being talked about. I would make my best guess and just start talking. I often got the pity smile from those we were teaching. I'm thankful for my trainer who helps me during lessons. It is nice to have a trainer that has learned the language, but is fluent- she understands what I am going through and therefore knows how to help me. I had many firsts in Guino Batan! I tried my first Pili- it is a nut that has no taste. It is in a giant shell that looks like an avocado, but the nut it tiny and white. I just liked it because it required a machete to open it. Then I had my first Santol fruit. I didn't think I would like it because all the other sisters don't really, but I loved it! It is sour and yummy. Then I had my first experience with showing up to a lesson and the person you are going to teach is totally drunk. It was his birthday so yeah. In the Philippines that means lots of food, drinks, and Karaoke. The karaoke was pretty halarious...but yeah it was an experience.

So the start of this week we had a Brown out for 2.5 days. So that was fun! not. SO HOT! Super hard to sleep. That is common, but usually there are during the day which sucks, but at least we don't have to try and sleep during them. It is because most the businesses in the Albay don't pay their electricity so the goverment just shuts it off for the entire province of Albay. There is a rumor that it is going to be shut off for an entire month is people don't start paying. I will be moving to the church or the hotel where there are generators when that happens.

So on Wednesday we had MLC- missionary leadership council. It is for Zone leaders and Sister Training leaders, so I get to tag a long because of my companion. I really want to be sister training leader later on in my mission. It is fun to serve the sisters and get to know them. We take them to the doctor, bring them supplies and lots of other stuff. I really love it.  I love meetings with other missionaries because it helps me realize that I am not alone is the craziness. There are so many other missionaries working hard also. It is very comforting. It gives me hope for the language when I hear other fluent greenies. I got to see sister Christensen at MLC because her Companion is the other STL. That was so nice to see her and talk to her about our experiences, but in the middle of the meeting she got way sick. She ended up in the hospital and had to get her Apendix out. It was so scary, but she is fine now and will be staying with the Guanzons for a while. We were able to visit her a lot at the hospital because it is down our street. I think we will visit her at the Guanzons too, maybe. She said it was good to see a familiar face because she has felt really homesick just laying in bed. I feel sooo bad for her, but am glad she is okay. She is so strong!

On Friday we had zone training! I got to see Elder Wilcox from my MTC district while was really great! We even got to practice teach together! It was fun to finally meet everyone in my zone! They are awesome and so hardworking.
So since me and my companion travel so much, we work, work, work when we are home. We have been a little frustrated because we have so many investigators, but only a few are progressing. We make a point to visit all of them and all our less active members as often as we can, and often they aren't home when they say they will be. We have been having a hard time getting people to church also. We have a few GOLDEN investigators, but 2 of them need to be married before they are baptized and they just won't budge to be married, but they always attend church and keep their commitments.  Then there are 2 young girls whose parents won't sign for them to be baptized. They are so ready and it is so frustrating! We are trying to find, find, find people that are ready and will progress. Since we are limited on time we have really asked the ward to step up and help with less active members. They have been really helpful and we actually had quite a few less active members attend church yesterday!!! We have one new investigator from this week! So we started teaching the Altavano family 2 weeks ago. I think I talked about them- Ceal's family. Our ward hasn't had a family baptism for over 2 years so I am excited about them! But anyway, we went back to teach them and Ceal wasn't home from work yet- but her kids were all there and a friend of her oldest daughter. So we taught them about reading the Book of Mormon. The two older girls were so interested! So the friend Carla really wants to be taught and join the lessons, so new investigator! YAY! When I told her I would bring her a Book of Mormon next week she got so excited and couldn't stop saying thank you. A new book is a big deal for many people here. I am so excited to keep teaching this family. If they are all present this weekend we will invite them to be baptized. Well the father isn't interested- but we are hoping to change that. Tatay's are very stubborn and stern here.

Another cool experience- So one of our investigators, Joseph Ayo- he is pretty old. Maybe 75? So his family always hides when we come over- his wife and daughter, but at least they leave the grandchildren out there to play with us (But they have never seen me, they just hide around the time we say we will come). Anyway, he has been in Manila seeing his other children- but we decided to go and see if he was home yet because we had extra time on friday night. They didn't know we were coming so they couldn't hide and guess what? They let us in even though Joseph wasn't there! They were so interested in why I was there all they way from America and wanted to talk to us. What a blessing to be an American here haha. Talking about why I am here- led to a lot of discussion and now they love us and want us to come over all the time! What a miracle! So now we can teach them as a family and maybe Joseph will be allowed to come to church- he hasn't come because of his wife. I love seeing hearts be softened! Missionary work is so rewarding!

Scariest moment of my mission so far and maybe my life- So on Saturday we were beginning a lesson with an investigator-Jenny. She owns a shop and we just teach her at her work. It is just open to the outside like most stores here. So we hear all this ruckus and banging on the front of the shop and shouting and people in the streets screaming. I had NO CLUE what was happening. Jenny just takes me and hides me behind all these clothes- because I am American haha. But I was freaking out, and shaking, and praying and thinking I was going to get kidnapped or something. Apparently a group of men had got in a fist fight and had taken wood off the store and were hitting people with it against the store so it was really loud. So I wasn't in danger, but I was terrified. I was shaking for like an hour after..but all is good. That really is the only time I haven't felt safe and Jenny said they would not have ever hurt me they were just fighting with each other.
A few things I have learned this week from Ward Council Meeting about how to be a missionary, when you don't have a badge that I want to share in case anyone wants to know: 1. When you see a new face at church, say hi! It could have taken all the courage in the world for them to come to church and what if no one says hi to them? 2. Go with the missionaries and be the member present. Be that fellowshipper for investigators. Missionaries love for anyone to accompany them. It helps investigators so much. 3. Have the missionaries over for dinner and give them referalls. It makes us feel at home (as long as the food is good), but as we build relationships with members we hope that they will trust us enough to give us referalls. 4. Always invite, but don't force. Invite again and again, but there is only so much you can do. You never know when someone will accept your invitation though- so always invite.

2 things that have really helped me get over being homesick and get over the hard times this week are something our AP's read to us from some talk- "Choose to serve THIS day, and the next will be better." It is so true. As I decide to work my hardest THIS day I am so much happier at the end of the day and the next day is even better. There are ups and downs, but I am happy and glad to be a part of the Lord's work. This morning I was looking through an old ensign and found this quote my Predient Eyring from when he was called to be in the First Presidency- "If we can just align ourselves with what Heavenly Father and the Savior want, we can do far better than we've done. God will touch people's lives through us more effectively than we could ever expect, and He will make more of our lives than we could ever imagine. Despite our fears and inadequacies, Heavenly Father will guide us. If you move ahead in faith and if you're humble, you will hear his voice." That is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. What are the chances that I chose that 2007 Ensign from the stack and flipped to that page and read that paragraph while I waited for my Companion to grab her wallet. Not a coincidence. That is going to be my comfort quote this week.

It has been really rainy this week, so a little less hot, but still hot and more humid. I love the rain in the Philippines. When it rains- it pours and pours. There is no avoiding getting soaked. I love it! We are supposed to get 4 typhoons this month- so that will be fun! What else, I had McDonalds today. It tasted to good to have some American food- even if it was McDonalds. I love the food here- but it is nice to have a break from rice and meat.

MAHAL KITA! Miss you all! Have a good week! Keep sending emails. I love to hear from anyone and everyone!

-Sister Gardner