Wednesday, January 15, 2014

12/16/13 Peace

Masaya Pasko! Nothing screams Christmas like hotter than hot weather, palm trees, pig heads, brown outs, rice, bucket showers, crocs, and tracting! 

This week has been crazy busy and I am so exhausted! So we decided at the beginning of the week that we wanted to beat our 50 lessons even if it was 51. I don't know why we do this to ourselves, but we do. Then we had district meeting on Thursday and one of the Elders in our district in his prayer as a joke said "please bless Sister Lang and Sister Gardner to get 60 lessons" to bug us because he knew we wanted to get 51...So then we were like okay you want to challenge we were determined and we ended up getting 61. It was hard, and a lot of walking, and a lot of tracting, but it was awesome! It kept us busy during this Christmas season...or the season that all missionaries sit and think of home if they aren't keeping themselves busy. We saw a lot of miracles from working hard this week and we found a lot of awesome people to teach! And some strange people...

My testimony of the power of the Book of Mormon has really been strengthened this week. Our investigator Marilyn told us she knows the Book of Mormon is true and has been reading it every night and morning. She said it has answers to her questions and brings her peace. Then we gave a Book of Mormon to our investigator Juna and when we stopped by to say hi to her yesterday she said she reads it whenever her kids are sleeping. She said the assignment we gave her was too short and next time we need to give her more to read. So awesome! Now for the best of all...So I don't remember if I have mentioned him..but we are teaching a preacher in the Pentacostal Church. His name is Roeal and his church is attached to his house. So he is pretty strong in his faith...but don't doubt the power of the Holy Ghost and the power of the Book of Mormon. So we went to teach him yesterday and he told us the believes that the Book of Mormon is true! He had been reading and he said it is "true like the Bible." He said he still hasn't gotten a sure answer to his prayer about Joseph Smith though. We explained that if the Book of Mormon is true, it means Joseph Smith is a prophet. He said to us "say that someone knew the Book of Mormon is true, and Joseph Smith was a prophet- could they still believe but keep going to their church?" We explained the authority that our church has for saving ordinances and asked why that would make any sense if he knew it was true? He said that change is hard. He was Catholic, then it was hard when he became Pentacostal and he has been for 30 years, and then he stopped, but I think I know where he was going... He is so awesome! I couldn't stop smiling! It is amazing to see him start to change! He still has some problems and we still have a lot to teach him, but he is starting to gain a testimony! He asked us if we have any drinks or foods that aren't allowed. When we told him about the Word of Wisdom he said he didn't have a problem with any of it and so we said "parang Mormon" (basically Mormon) and then he said "magiging Mormon" (will become Mormon) but then he said Joke Lang...but not Joke Lang. He saw my quadruple combination and said he wants one. He was to intrigued with the bible dictionary and topical guide and he said he wants his Bible and Book of Mormon is one book like me haha. And he can't wait to see our hymn book next week. He is so interested in every little thing. I really hope he will be able to have the courage to accept the fulness of the gospel into his life! 

This week we also had Evelyn and Sarah accept baptismal dates! Annalyn our investigator told us she knows our Church is true and she knew the first time we taught her because she got chills during the opening prayer. Miracles are happening! 

So this week I have been thinking a lot about peace. It seems like each person we teach has these problems that are so awful and sad and most of the time I just feel like there really is nothing I can do to help them. I am 20 years old and I have NO idea how they feel. For example, 14 year old Jerome who can't go to school or church because he has to work to support and feed his entire family. But something I do have is the Restored Gospel. The gospel brings peace. Maybe it won't completely change their circumstances, but it can bring peace and hope through any trial. Elder Nielson's talk at the Christmas Devotional about finding peace through the Savior went right a long with my thoughts this week. I also thought about the peace that comes from a knowledge of God's plan for us. Sometimes the only thing that gets me through a really hard day on the mission is knowing that what is now, is not forever. I will not forever be sweating my face off walking from door to door and speaking in a crazy language. The same thing can come from a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. Whatever trials we face on earth or whatever our circumstances, it will not forever be. One day we will return to our loving Heavenly Father and if we are righteous here on earth we will experience eternal happiness. That has really changed the way I present the Plan of Salvation to these people that have close to nothing and it gives me hope for them. 

As I have been trying to feel the Christmas spirit, I have been thinking about how that can be possible when all the things that I have ever associated with Christmas are absent. I read a few talks by the first presidency and realized that many of the things I associate with Christmas probably don't have to do with what Christmas really is about. I read one talk that talked about how the way we can feel the Christmas spirit the most is by becoming more Christlike and doing the things that Christ would do if he were here on the earth. So maybe this year will be the closest I ever get to the Christmas spirit as I go from house to house teaching the people of the Philippines about Christ and about His plan for us and how we can return to Him. I know it sounds cliche, but I hope that you all find ways to feel the real spirit of Christmas and not get to caught up in the craziness of the season!
I'll leave you with one of my favorite things that happened this week- we were sitting in our apartment studying one night and all of the sudden we hear these two little voices outside singing Christmas songs. It was two little girls caroling! It made my night! They helped me feel the Christmas spirit! 

I love and miss you all! 

-Sister Gardner

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