Sunday, December 29, 2013

Skype Call

Pasko Na

Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat!!

Where to even start...these have been two of my very favorite weeks of my mission. Christmas as a missionary is one of my very favorite things! There is nothing like it and it will always be a December I will never forget.

First of all, on Saturday we got the greatest Christmas gift of all when we saw Ninoy Sulla baptized. It was an amazing day, one he has been waiting for for so long and he was beaming the whole time. His twin brother Toni who is a recent convert and the one who referred us to him was his baptizer and got to exercise his priesthood for the first time. Everything was just so special. We asked Ninoy on Sunday how he felt and all he could say was, "Masaya!" or "Happy!" and he just said it over and over again. We are so excited for him and all he will add to the ward and the difference this will make in his life.

For the past 12 weeks Sister Sia and I have been praying to find a family to teach and it just hasn't seemed to happen but this week we found them...the Dionisho family. They are former investigators that we have taught on and off but they have just never been able to make any changes or really progress. Then this past week Sister Sia and I both felt that it was time to visit them again so we did and this time was different... they are ready! We invited them again to church, texted them Saturday night and they came!! There is nothing like seeing the people you have been waiting, hoping and praying for walk through the chapel doors. We are so excited for them and all the progress they are now making towards baptism. On a funny note, their little kids always run around yelling, "Mormons!" when we come and they happened to see us in the chapel and began doing that during the Sacrament. If that doesn't make everyone aware that they are investigators I don't know what else would :)

Yesterday for Christmas Eve us four kabahay or roommates had a whole celebration. Our Bishop gave us take-out with a Christmas ham and everything...have I told you yet how amazing he is? So we set up our whole feast and then after that played some Christmas games (including the cereal one Mom-they loved it!) and then opened presents that different members had given us. We read the first Christmas story from Luke, had a sleep over in the other sister's room and fell asleep to Sister Jenkins telling us stories. Then I woke up early on Christmas morning (today) and put the little things you had sent Mom in some socks we had taped up then went back up to bed. We woke up said our prayers and they came down and saw their stockings (ankle socks) and were so excited. We opened those and then had our Secret Santa gift exchange with each other. We relaxed and just enjoyed Christmas. It was perfect! Seriously. I love being a missionary at Christmas.

This past week we had Christmas Conference and it was honestly amazing. I loved every minute of it. By far my favorite part was when they surprised us and said we would be watching a movie and guess what it was...Ephriam's Rescue. I freaked out. For those of you who don't know it is about my great great great grandpa and so as his ancestors my family got to be involved in some of the filming. I totally saw you Dad like 4 times and Grandpa your hands and beard DEFINITELY made an appearance. I loved every minute of it and have pondered quite about about it since. There is so much I loved from it but I think my very favorite thing was when Ephriam was asked to participate in the rescue and he replied, "I am ready now." That phrase had a special impact on me because being ready always to the Lord's call has been something I have been trying to focus on in my mission. 1 Peter 3:15 which reads, " ready always..." has become I guess a motto for me. When I feel overwhelmed by approaching the person in the jeepney or apprehensive about a lesson I think about that and am always filled with the courage to act. I am so grateful for the reason for this season. The knowledge that we have our Savior who lived and died for each of us, who set the perfect example of submitting to the Father's will in all things and ready in every way to run his Father's errands. I hope to serve my Father in such a way that he can trust me to "be ready always" as the calls comes. 

I love you all so much!! Merry Christmas!!

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
Here in the Philippines, December 24th is actually the big day, when all the celebrating happens. They prepare mounds and mounds of food. All the families come together drink haha, sing karaoke and just plain celebrate. Then at midnight they open all their gifts. People do sort of believe in Santa here but not a whole lot especially because there really isn't a lot of money for gifts to be given. Yesterday the one lesson we were able to teach because so many were busy was in a dark little shack with no electricity. We taught a less-active sister named, Delilah. She told us that she had told her children how lucky they were that they just had time to relax on Christmas and think about the reason for the holiday instead of being busy with all the cooking and presents because they don't have enough money. She is such a humble women! I really do love Christmas in the Philippines!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Maging sunurin palagi!

Kumusta na kayong lahat?

What a week. Sister Sia and I loved this week. With training we have been working on having the courage to extend baptismal dates to our investigators in the first lesson. Kind of scary but ALWAYS worth it. So that was our goal this week, only problem is you need investigators first. So we have been praying like crazy to know how to help this ward and area progress and also to find new investigators. Do you remember Sister Alonde that I told you about last week who introduced us to all of her friends? Well she is amazing and I will NEVER forget her example of member missionary work. We were able to go back and teach more of her friends and neighbors and gave ALL of them baptism dates which they accepted and were also able to contact and extend baptismal dates to some former investigators and referrals we contacted. The first appointment we went to knowing we were going to try and extend a baptismal date I told Sister Sia she was going to do it. Haha she was so mad and really didn't want to but I told I wouldn't be helping her in anyway if I just did it for her. We did a lot of practice teaching so she was totally prepared and headed to the lesson--- she was silent the whole way there :) But when we got to the lesson it went perfecting and she extending the baptimal date which they accepted and she walked away with a huge smile on her face haha I love that sister. We'll see how the investigators progress we still have only taught them one or two lessons but we are excited to see progress in the area.  

Brother Ninoy is doing so great and is so excited for his baptism in two weeks. I can't wait for him!!  Speaking of answered prayers. Bishop got up on Sunday and just started announced newly called ward missionaries, about 9 of them. We are so excited to work with them! They are so many who either have calls or are now working on the paper work. Malanday Ward will exploding with youth and young single adults ready to serve. I am so excited for them!

This past week I have been thinking quite a bit about agency and obedience. As I said before it is one of my very favorite things to study and teach. I read a talk by Elder Christofferson where he said, "It is exciting to realize that we can expound our freedom by perfecting our obedience." It's so true! I have seen it so many times in the people we teach. When they are prepared and willing to exercise the great gift that our Father has given us of agency correctly miracles occur and we are set free. I am so grateful for a mission that is teaching me and allowing me to experience the joy of self-mastery through obedience in all things. I am so grateful for the Savior whose perfect example and sacrifice set us all free.

I love you all so much. Mahal na mahal ko kayong lahat at ingat kayo palagi!

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
Contrary to popular belief this country does not make you loss weight- SO MUCH RICE...I got of the first scale I've seen since coming to the Philippines at Bishop's house this week...I've gained 20 pounds...this is not a joke. Good thing I've still got 9 months before I come home...good news is I've been told I wear it well hahahaha.

Here is the actually cultural fact connected to this. Sister Sia will not eat unless I am eating so even if she is super duper hungry so will not eat so I eat ALL the time so that she will eat her food. This isn't the way all Filipinos are but I've talked to other Filipinos for Bacalod (where she is from) and they said they are the same way. She also thinks it is hilarious to the tell members that I am losing weight here so they pile more and more and more food on my plate...just so you know there is no one on earth that can say no when a Filipino nanay or mom tells you to eat. Good thing the food is almost always delicious!

Nasa 'yo na ang lahat

I hope you are all having amazing holidays! I miss you all :)

I am just going to start right with the highlight of our week...we finished teaching the lessons with Ninoy yesterday, reviewed the baptismal questions and helped him bear his first testimony. Such a special experience. Then he headed to the baptismal interview and he passed. He is so excited and has been waiting so long. We are so excited for him! This Saturday he will be baptized by his twin brother, Toni, the one who introduced us to him. Teaching Ninoy and seeing the joy he has found makes it all worth it. The trials and challenges, hard days and dissapoitments, all of it is worth it for the people you do find who are ready. As he bore his testimony for the first time he started strong by telling us all he had learned and knew to be true. Then he suddenly covered his face and said he didn't want to cry. He left his face covered and told us how grateful he was for his brothers example and for helping him find the church. He told us that this is what he had hoped for as a kid was a group of people that would help him find the truth and this is it. I am just so happy for him! He is definitely what you call a golden investigator. I have learned for him what it means to have a desire to learn. He studies and searches the assignments  we give him and the ones we don't. He writes down questions and does everything that is asked of him.

We also had a less-active sister return to activity this week. She hasn't been less-active for very long she just kind of lost sight of things for awhile. I've told you about her before. Her name is Sister Laude and I love her so much! I will never forget the Sunday I saw her walk into sacrament meeting and see has been there religiously ever since even though she has to walk and then ride a tricycle and jeepney all while hauling her two young and totally wild grandkids. Last week we were sitting in our district meeting and I saw her out the window. I went outside to see if she was okay and she said she was here to renew her temple recommend. I just broke in the biggest smile and sqeezed her. We had never talked to her about her temple recommend but it was amazing to me that as she started obeying on commandment everything just followed. This past week she was able to go to the temple again. Something she hadn't done for a year. We are so excited for her. The one downer is she wasn't at church on Sunday...

I love this work, especially at Christmas time. It has been so weird. It really doesn't feel like Christmas for me, its just so different. Different country, no family, etc. But I have been able to come closer to the Savior. I have tried to focus all of my study on the Savior and do all I can to make it special since I will only have one Christmas as a missionary. I decided to try and think about what I can give Him as a gift this Christmas. I have been thinking of so many different things I could do and work on for Him but last night, at the Christmas Devotional rebroadcast, I was stuck by what President Monson said. He asked the very question I had been pondering, "What can we give Him?" He answered by saying our hearts, giving Him a tender and loving heart. I want to do all I can to better seal my heart for His courts on high this Christmas as His missionary. I know that He lives and we can find no greater source real and lasting joy.

I love you all!!

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:

First of all I would like to say these fun facts are now Filipina approved. I don't know how because I haven't told anyone my first name but some of the girls from our English Class searched me online and found the blog Brenna posts these on. One of them came up to me after class and said that she agreed with all my facts haha. [Salamat sa approval nyo, Joyce at Analyn, kung binabasa nyo ito.]

I think I might have already shared this but people no matter what mode of transportation someone has the make use of every free space. In the jeepneys no matter how full they are the drivers will yell out, "Isa pa!" or "One more!" Someone else will get in and when they see about and inch between you and the person next to you they will just turn around and start backing into the seat so you have to choice but to try and make room haha they basically end up sitting on your lap. Same rule applies to motorcycles, tricycles and anything with wheels. Last night I saw a family drive past me on their motorcycle including-- Mom, Dad, Big Brother, Toddler and Baby (in Mom's arms). I also see people go past on their bicycles with someone sitting on the handlebars (like we used to do on Randi's bike as kids) or on the cross bar but the kicker is the it is usually done with two men...haha so weird but I love it.

Traffic Palagi

Hey Fam!

First week of a new transfer. I feel like I just said that. Sister Sia and I are loving life just as much as ever including the blazing heat in the middle of November :) Speaking of November...

Let me say that Thanksgiving is actually surprisingly difficult to explain to someone who hasn't ever experienced it and has no idea why we do it, or what pilgrims and Indians are haha. This past week our Bishop fed us turkey in honor of us Americans. That is a once in a lifetime opportunity in the Philippines. That was the first time for Sister Sia and Sister Domagas eating turkey in their whole lives :)

This week our life has been sitting in traffic. Not really but the main road to get to our area is under-construction, like it ALWAYS is (its as bad as Utah County), so we get to spend a lot of time in jeepneys talking to people and being stressed about being late to our appointments ha. Speaking of the traffic...the other day we were walking near a traffic filled intersection, meaning there were a bunch of jeepneys jammed together FULL of people, and I being a tall white person am already constantly stared at but to make matters worse I then proceeded to unintentionally step in a puddle of muddle which I then slipped in and sprayed ALL over myself. I called out to Sister Sia who turned around and looked at me like I was truly insane. I then looked around and could see people inside ALL of the jeepneys laughing and pointing at me...great haha. The worst part was that I had no way to even attempt to get it off so we decided to just get to our next appointment and ask if I could just wash myself off there. Needless to say I got even more weird looks along the way.

Our best news this week is that Brother Ninoy's family is safe! We are so happy for him and know that that was an answer to lots of prayers. We also had a great lesson with him on Sunday and can't wait for his baptism on Dec 14. He is so ready! He will be fasting this Sunday for the first time to get ready for his baptism :)

On Saturday we also had a really neat experience with our ward. We had the chance to coordinate a Mini MTC fireside with our Ward Mission Leader because there are so many prospective elders in our ward. It was a really neat night and we got the elders in our zone involved too. We taught basic teaching skills and had practice teaching with them split up into companionships. They will hopefully now be more prepared for their missions and are going to be helping us reteach the recent converts in our area. 

Bad news was that Brother Pernia and his family didn't come to church, including Shina who was supposed to speak in the Young Women presentation. I love that family so much and just know how much happiness the gospel could bring to the. Free agency is frustrating sometimes.

This week I have learned a lot about "being of good cheer" and taking courage. I love that we know assuredly that we are on the winning team and no matter the obstacles we face all is possible through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. We have the perspective of eternity and know how the story ends. As members of the church and representives of Jesus Christ we can be filled with the hope that comes through knowledge of the truth. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this work.

I love you all!! Happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for you all.

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
There are roosters EVERYWHERE here. You hear them crowing all the time. You can always see them outside of people's houses tied to a little rope or find men just sitting outside grooming their roosters. They are used for cock fights.

Ang sagot sa lahat ay pananampalataya kay Jesucristo

Hey Family!

Wow I really can't believe how fast the time keeps flying. Sister Sia and I have already been together for 6 weeks, one transfer down. It scares me how fast the time is going. I feel like I'm just going to blink and find myself on an airplane headed to the States.

This week we had a super high and super low moment with those we are teaching.

For the low, we don't know if Brother Pernia will be able to be baptized. There are just some underlying problems that we found out this week that are completely in his hands to fix and we don't know how or when that will be. We are going to keep praying for him and supporting him. He has made so much progress, especially with the Word of Wisdom so hopefully he will able to make the other necessary difficult changes and choices. One exciting moment this week with their family though was that Shina, their 15-year-old extremely sassy teenage, came to church early on her own and stayed after to participate with the young women. I really have seen changes in her. Also, their youngest son Abraham is 6-years-old but has just learned to walk and hasn't yet learned how to speak. I love that little boy so much and he honestly is such a light. We have been working so hard to teach him how to shake hands with us each time we come and he is starting to get it :) 

For the high, Brother Ninoy came to church!!! Ah I can't even say how happy I was when I saw him walk in and basically ran straight to him. But man has he faced some struggles in the last week. He and his twin brother had to move and look for new work and then on top of all that stress he faced a far more difficult challenge. Ninoy is from Leyte, an area that was severely effected by typhoon Yolanda. He called his parents and younger brother the night before the storm and has since had no contact with them because there is still no cell phone signal there. He has no idea if they are alive or not or what their circumstances are. As we talked he began struggling not to cry and I could only image how difficult and scary waiting for ANY news would be. We were going to teach him after church so Sister Sia and I went to a room to pray for help in knowing what he needed and how to possibly comfort him. Before our lesson we had Ward Council and I suddenly found myself explaining his situation to Bishop Dela Cruz not sure why or how he could help. I love that man who then took Brother Ninoy aside in the best display of fellowshipping I have ever seen and brought him into his office where he got all the information he could from Ninoy. Bishop Dela Cruz said that we have a chapel in the exact town that Ninoy's family lives and the bishop and ward members will now be looking for Ninoy's family. I am so amazed by the way prayers are answered everyday. This storm really has had such an effect on people here. Twice now Sister Sia and I have talked to individuals on the jeepney who have began crying because of either coming from Taclooban witnessing the devastation or still having family and friends unaccounted for there. Keep praying for the people there and those with loved ones effected. Our mission this week had 18 missionaries from Taclooban mission reassigned here, which means that those missionaries supposed to go home in December (like Sister Yagemai) are going home immediately in order to accommodate the changes. So much change! Earlier this week we all had an opportunity as missionaries to go through our clothes and things and gather what we didn't need or were willing to give in order to help the missionaries coming from Taclooban because they came here with only the clothes on their backs. 

I have just been reminded again and again how grateful I am for the hope and peace that comes through a knowledge of God and his plan for us. I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to share that message of peace with the people here in the Philippines who already have a deep love for God. 

I love you all so much. You are always in my prayers.

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
Filipinos are very trusting people in so many ways but one of those ways is in their willingness to just give out their addresses. It makes life very easy as a missionary when street contacting because it is not weird or awkward in the least to just ask, "So what is your number and exact address?" Often times it is just a part of everyday normal conversation to just ask where someone lives to a complete stranger which freaked me out a bit at first but I love it!

Bagyo, Binyag, Biyaya

Dear Family,

First of all, we are all safe and sound here in the Quezon City North Mission. The severe typhoon didn't hit us. We were told to get enough food and water for three days as a precaution, heard about the storm constantly from everyone we talked to and got some crazy clouds and strong winds but that was about all we felt from it. I just can't believe the southern Philippines-- Visayas--- got hit with it after experiencing an earthquake a couple weeks ago! Sister Sia's family got hit by the storm but they are fine.

This week Ninoy did not come to church again and he isn't answering our texts. We are praying for him and worried that he was offended at the YSA activity. Hopefully we will be able to contact him this week. He is so ready for baptism and knows this church is true.

Brother and Sister Pernia did come to church which we were so excited about AND they came early which is like a HUGE deal here because no one comes early. That was something they decided to do on their own and promised they would be there early because they felt it was important :) We are trying so hard to help him with the word of wisdom and reading the Book of Mormon but it is still a struggle. Sometimes people's free agency is frustrating for me on the mission haha now I know how Heavenly Father must feel with us all the time. I know that this message will change his life, help him find peace, joy and happiness and we know he knows it too, he just hasn't acted on it yet...its frustrating haha but Sister Sia and I want so badly to be the last set of missionaries to go through this cycle with him and feel like we are supposed to keep working with him. So for now we are going to keep praying like crazy and giving him everything we've got. 

Yesterday we coordinated with the Relief Society to do a One-Day-Mission. We split everyone into companionships (like a massive one day visiting teaching activity) and then went and taught the less-actives sisters and their families. Sister Sia and I went on splits so that we could teach more people and I got the chance to work with two sister from the ward-- Sister Baquiran and Sister Nagrit. It was such a neat experience and inspiring to see how excited the sisters were as they all left in their companionships to go to teach their sisters in various areas of the ward. As I was walking with Sister Nagrit and Sister Baquiran I was just filled with such a love for the work here. Sometimes it can be a bit frustrating/discouraging working here because there are so many less-actives and at times things are pretty disorganized but my love for the people, the ward and the church in the Philippines as I walked with these two sisters for hours going from house to house helping to "rescue" those who had lost their way and was inspired by the joy Sister Nagrit and Sister Baquiran found in it.

I am so grateful for this work and the role we ALL have in it. This week and over the past few weeks, as I mentioned last week, I've been doing a lot of self-reflection. Last transfer I was told by someone that I didn't have any faith or that I didn't expect and see miracles. I thought I had just brushed the comment off but these past few weeks I've realized how much I had actually let it effect me. It had me questioning my effectiveness as a missionary, if my lack of faith was preventing those I was teaching from progressing, etc. I've been praying for my heart to be opened and to be worthy of witnessing miracles and acting on faith. Today as I prayed and studied I was filled with peace and realized that I had simply done as Preach My Gospel warns against. I had let my discouragement damage my faith but I am so grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who hears and answers all our prayers and for a Savior who knows all of our fears and disappointments. I am grateful for the opportunity I, and all of us, have each day to exercise faith and witness miracles as witnesses of Jesus Christ.

I love you all and never stop praying for you.

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
 Filipinos are AWESOME at recycling and reusing anything and everything. I am always amazed at the uses that they come up with for things in order to get everything they can out of it. One example is posters. You will see old posters, especially from political campaigns, reused a  canopy on all the tindahans (little stores on the streets), as seat covers in the jeepneys (which is always funny when you sit down on an past candidates face), and about a million other uses. 

Lagi may maraming himala sa gawain ng Diyos

Magandang araw!!

Well as always it was another great week. As far as work went this week was a little rough because we spent most of our time in meetings but they were amazing as always so we aren't complaining. 

On Thursday we had Zone Conference all day about 2 hours away in Camarin and the next day we were supposed to come back for Follow-Up Training Meeting so to make things easier we just spent the night there...which means I got to go back to Rainbow House and Deparo, my first area! It was so weird being back in the apartment and walking the same streets (not to be super dramatic). I just kept thinking about how much has already changed and how much I have changed in not that much time. One things for sure is missions are full of change on so many different levels. 

Lately I have been feeling a bit discouraged about my work as a missionary and what my role is in the Malanday 2 area. I have gotten comfortable now with the language, the lessons and just being a missionary so it is easy to kind of feel settled and I started worried that I wasn't progressing as I should and helping this area to do the same. As we went to church on Sunday those were my thoughts and then no one that promised they would come to church came, including Ninoy who ALWAYS comes and is supposed to be getting baptized in 2 weeks. I just started giving all thoughts and feeling to my Heavenly Father and seeking help, comfort and guidance. It was the primary program (which the Philippines takes to a whole other level haha) and it was all centered on "I Am A Child of God". I loved it but was still feeling pretty discouraged. I just started trying to have the best attitude I could and recognize all the good that was happening. I remembered the people who were already there I hadn't expected like the Corpin, Dugo and Franscisco family. I started to feel and peace and then as we were standing to sing the rest hymn I turned around to see old Sister Laude walking in the door. This is a stubborn older less-active women who I NEVER expected to see attend church. I was completely overwhelmed. I don't think I have ever smiled that big and tears were definitely shed. As soon as sacrament was over I booked it over to her and just hugged her and she cried as well. She just said to me looking around that she has missed this church. God is so good! And then he showed us another miracle. During Relief Society I looked over to see Sister Pernia walk into the room a less-active women who has been returning to church but who's husband is not a member but has a baptismal date and who's children are all very less-active. We have been doing everything we can to get them to church and nothing was working and so many promises to come. I looked over to her and she just smiled with tears and said, "Nandito kami lahat" meaning "We are all  hear". Sister Sia and I booked it outside and sure enough their ENTIRE family was there. That is a miracle I will never forget. 

Our Heavenly Father truly is so aware of us, each and EVERY one of us. His plan is so perfect and I am continually overwhelmed by that fact. I am continually being taught to trust in His plan before my own because His is ALWAYS far better than I could ever imagine. I am so grateful for the time He has given me as His missionary.

I love you all so much. Thank you for your love support and examples. We have been using the Work of Salvation videos a lot in our work lately and I absolutely love them. I would encourage everyone to go watch them with their families. The Lord truly is hastening His work and it is so exciting to be a part of it, all of us are!

Mahal na mahal ko kayong lahat.

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
Copyright does not exist in the Philippines...or if it does EVERYONE ignores it. You can buy (not that I do) Nike, North Face, Channel and anything you could possibly want off the streets. That is just an example. Everything you see is probably illegally copied including pictures from the LDS picture library blown-up and used on other churches. Haha its great.

Sorry I know this is awful quality but this is the Pernia family at church all together for the first time in I don't know how long. Samson (7-years-old) is missing from this picture because he would dive out of the picture every time we tried to take it. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ano yung pagnanais nyo sa buhay nyo?

Hello Fam!!!

How are you all? I'm sorry to tell you that this email once again will not have pictures so you can just stop reading now if you like because I know of that is all a lot of you look at these for :) haha just kidding but really...that was always my favorite part so I'm sorry.

First of all, Sister Sia and I are still alive and well and absolutely loving life. Sister Sia is absolutely hilarious and constantly keeps me laughing. We found a lot of new investigators this week and so we are excited to see if some of them will be progressing in the next few weeks. One women we taught after just talking to her on the street a few weeks ago. It really was such a special lesson and at the end we asked her to pray. After a lot of hesitation we taught her how and she agreed to try. After her prayer I asked her how she felt and she just started rubbing her arms and smiling replied, "I feel like I have electricity going through me and I know God is happy because that was my first sincere prayer." Ah I love missionary work! This week we have been working with a lot of families-- less-actives and investigators-- who we have asked the question, "What do you want in life and for your family?" It is always so interesting to hear their responses but it almost always comes back to their children becoming good people, raising good children and being close to God. I love it and I've thought about that a bit myself. What do I want out of life? For myself? For those I love? And am I doing everything I can to obtain that? 

Second, Ninoy finally got his answer. He knows it is all true! I am so excited for his baptism. He is so ready. 

Third, the earthquake in Bihol (southern Philippines) hasn't effected us at all but we hear about it everyday. Please pray for the missionaries and people living there that were effected by it.   

I love you all so much and I'm constantly reminded of how blessed I am to have all of you in my life. Today during personal study I was brought again to 1 Nephi 1:20, "...the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I just love that so much! No matter how hard of a day we have or how much it feels like we were unsuccessful I can always look back and see the tender mercies of the Lord in His work. You are all my tender mercies. I love you lots!

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
I still haven't totally figured this one out but burping is totally acceptable but at the same time not here. It totally threw me off when the sisters after dinner would just burp or even people we were teaching in the middle of the lessons. I guess it means you are full...I don't know they all sort of cover their mouth after and say, "Excuse," but then will just do it again a few minutes later haha its random. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Time flies on the wings of lighting

Hey family!

Wow I have so much to tell you. It was another great week and so much has happened.

First, I will be in Valenzuela for another transfer but I will be training. AHHH. I'm super nervous, overwhelmed and excited all wrapped into one. Last week we had trainer's training with President Sperry and it was really special. Sister Loo and Sister Chamberlain (my companions from the MTC) will also be training which is really fun. We've got to go through this whole journey together. This work really is exploding! This new batch of incoming missionaries is the biggest President and Sister Sperry have ever seen... 28 new missionaries! That is so many. All I know so far is that my trainee's name is Sister Sia. I'm not sure where she is from but from her name I'm going to guess Philippines. I go pick her up tomorrow morning. I'm so excited and have been more and more grateful for my trainer, Sister Yagemai, and follow-up trainer, Sister Walker.

Second, this week I saw a lot of heartache in families we are teaching. As missionary constantly talking and to people on a spiritual level it often leads to them telling us about different difficulties they have faced to trials they are now facing. People face so many hardships and everyday I am more grateful for the upbringing I've been given. This week was a testimony to be of what we share everyday-- the gospel of Jesus Christ truly does bless the family. Most of the struggles I've seen with those we teach and serve have come because one person or another chose to stray from the gospel path. It breaks my heart and the heart of their loved ones. I have also been taught over and over how important family home evening is. Its something that I always took for granted, especially as a teenager haha but I've seen what a difference it makes in the family.

Third, I got a letter from some the members in my last area, Deparo, and I bawled my eyes. It was amazing to see the miracles that are still unfolding in their lives and the opportunity the Lord gave me to be a part of it. A letter from Maricel was especially important to me. She really has become new through Christ and turned her life over to Him again. I am so grateful for the time Heavenly Father gave me with her and can't wait to see her again, whether in this life for the next.

Fourth, we had Zone Interviews last week. President and Sister Sperry are so amazing. I'm just so grateful for them.

I know there is/was more I wanted to tell you but I think I'll leave it at that. I'm just so grateful for all that Heavenly Father gives us and that He truly is so intimately involved in our lives. I love you all so much and pray for you every night. 

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact: TRAFFIC. This could be like 600 seperate fun facts but I'll keep it at the basics. When I got to the Philippines I was told there were two rules to the traffic here. One, fill in the gaps, meaning if there is a space fill it. Meaning any and every free space on the road and most of the time this is interpreted to mean that the lane lines on the road mean absolutely nothing haha. Second, there are no rules. It is so true. They truly to whatever they want when driving but they are super good at it. I'm surprised I don't see more accidents. I'm just glad I never have to drive here :)


Hey Family!!

Hope all is well in the states I've been missing America as of lately :) but this was a great week full of lots of miracles. We got in so many lessons, were able to work and teach with the members and SO many people came to church. It was an exciting week after some kind of difficult ones.

This week we went back and taught Nanay Auora (the sister we found after we decided to leave the dinner appointment because there were no sisters there). I just feel more and more blessed by the Lord for finding her. She is amazing! First of all, not only did she read her assignment but she apologized for not reading it again so she could understand it better. She is seriously golden. We had a great lesson with the help of a recent RM who was working with us. But I favorite part was the end of the lesson. We taught her how to pray which is always one of my very favorite things to do as a missionary because often times I get to hear someone pray to their Heavenly Father for the very first time. Well Nanay was pretty nervous about it but as we talked to her she told us she would try. She gave a very sweet and sincere pray and got choked up a bit. After her prayer we asked her how she felt and I will never forget her answer. She is a women of great faith and truly has a relationship with God but she began to cry and told us that as a Catholic always reciting memorized prayers she has never before been able to speak to God and tell him the things of her heart. She has never been able to tell Him what she needs. To ask for help with her children and to talk to Him when there is no one else to turn to. That was incredible to me. I gained a new perspective one the gift of prayer I, we all, have been given and so often take for granted. This week I began studying prayer and how I could improve and better appreciate the gift I have been given and known about all my life. I LOVED what it says about prayer in the Bible Dictionary and I highly suggest reading it all :) but one part reads, "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God  is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive one our part. Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other." Ah I love that! So this week I am going to work on my prayers and effectively/actively striving to align my will with my Father and remember who I am as His daughter.

This work is the hardest most rewarding thing I have even done. I am so grateful for all of you and your love, support and prayers. I pray for you always!!

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
The people here are in love with Avriel Levine (I think I spelled that totally wrong but hopefully you still understand who that is). Her posters are ALL over the place haha it is the most random thing and I still haven't figured out why they chose her. I think it has to do with her being blonde.


Hey family!!

Do I say this every week? Well I'm going to say it again...time is flying! I can't believe that this transfer is already almost over! 

This week was such a good one with lessons taught and LOTS of lessons learned. This week I was taught a lesson I will never forget about obedience.  We had a dinner appointment with a member of the bishopric and his family to share a message about missionary work and hopefully put the Book of Mormon in the member's hands to share with their friends as we've been asked to do by mission leaders. We were so excited for it and during our companionship study we did practice teaching so everything would go smoothly. When we walked into their home that night they were busy preparing the food and very excited to see us. We noticed that their mother (of a family that consists of all boys) was not in the room. We sat down hoping that she would come out of the next room knowing that it was against mission rules to be there without the presence of a women. We asked the father where his wife was and he said she on her way home from work we waited a couple minutes and she had still not shown up. We asked again how long she would be and he said probably a half-an-hour so we asked if we could start the lesson then eat when she got home-- forgetting for a minute that there was no women. We started the hymn and I heard one of the sons ask when their mom would be home and the father responded probably an hour-- I panicked! Now we were trapped with no women and I did not want to offend a member of the bishopric by leaving. All I could think about during the song was that we were not being exactly obedient, a promise I had made to myself when I started my mission that I would always be. All I could think about as I prayed for what to share with them and to invite the Spirit was the lines from the white handbook that said there were no exceptions to the exact rule we were disobeying. As the opening prayer ended I knew I was  the first one to start the lesson. I looked at them and knew I couldn't teach. I apologized and told them that we were so excited to share with them but would have to come back later as soon as their mother returned. It was super awkward haha they asked a lot of questions but finally said they understood. As we left their house I started praying as hard as I could that they would understand and that we would find someone to teach in the meantime. Long story short we were led to an amazing women who had been taught by missionaries once in the past but moved and didn't know how to find us again. It was a wonderful lesson and after her husband came and talked with us and said they were excited for us to come back again.  We then returned to the bishopric family's home and had a great dinner and were able to tell them the story of finding this women and her family. 

On the way home that night I just kept thinking about how grateful I was that I hadn't rationalized teaching the lesson without a women present like I wanted to do. I would have missed out on the opportunity to find this women and to see the Lord's hand in this work. I kept thinking of a quote from Elder Bednar that says, "As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon." Then speaking of Brigham Young he said, "[He] was an agent who exercised his agency and acted in accordance with correct principles, and he became a mighty instrument in the hands of the Lord." I am not in the least saying I was a mighty instrument in the Lord's hands and I know there are still so many areas that I fall short but I do know that the Lord blesses us each time we choose to be obedient to His commandments and I am so grateful for the opportunities He gives me to be an instrument in His hands in at least a small way. I often hear missionaries say in certain situations of disobedience, "We have no choice." There is ALWAYS a choice and I am so grateful for that. We can ALWAYS choose to obey. Agency is one of our greatest gifts in this life and one of my very favorite things to teach (something I got from Sister Walker). We can always use our agency, and gift we've been given to obey and become more like our Savior so that we can someday return to live with our Father in Heaven.

I love you all so so much! Thank you for your examples to me of obedience. Namimis kayo!! Ingat kayo palagi!! 

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact: They have a very hard time with 'p' and 'f' here and always switch the pronunciation. Its actually pretty funny. For example Sister Baile will always say, "Nasaan yung Flanner ko?" {Where is my planner?} Also everyone here pronounces my name as Sister Foster or sometimes Posters or sometimes even Forter haha its a good time!

I got to see Sister Criste and Sister Plame again at Temple Tour. I have missed those two so much!

Temple TOur with sister Baile and Sister Ayub.  Sister Ayub got here the same day as me.  She is from Pakistan and came here speaking VERY little English and received no language training in the MTC.  She is amazing. :)

This is our investigator Ninoy. He is so amazing. He is so prepared to receive the gospel and is so excited to learn everything he possibly can about it. He will be getting baptized soon :)

Kumusta pamilya ko!

I hope you are all doing great. I can't believe I'm already writing you all another email. Time is seriously flying. Mid-week it gets kind of slow but by the time I'm sitting here emailing you again I can't believe another week has come and gone. I'm already half-way done with this transfer--WHAT?!

The first and most exciting thing about this week was Mission Tour. We had Elder Echo Hawk-- the newest member of our area presidency-- come and speak to us and it was amazing! He and his wife are both converts to the church so it was especially neat to hear their perspective on missionary work. Elder Echo Hawk shared a lot with us about his experience being called as a new general authority and I was just so overcome with how perfect this church is and that the general authorities are truly men called of God. 

After his talk they selected some a apartments to come and check and ours ended up being one of them. Good thing we had left it sparkling clean (well as clean as you can get an apartment in the Philippines haha). It was fun getting to talk with them and President and Sister Sperry one-on-one for a bit. Sister Echo Hawk made the comment about our apartment that its like camping for 18 months haha sometimes I forget that bucket showers and toilets that don't flush aren't normal. All part of the adventure :)

The work this week has been good. We are still working really hard to build up the area and our teaching pool and slowly but surely its happening :) We've got some baptismal dates coming up that hopefully people will keep. I'll let you know as we get closer. One man named Antonino is SO diligent in his studies--as in he takes notes about everything and wants to know ALL the details and asks ALL kinds of questions-- which is awesome and he is coming to church but we still aren't sure if he felt and recognizes the Spirit yet or the truth of what we're saying. We are focusing on that with him this week and hopefully he will be baptized on October 5! 

This companionship is really pushing Sister Baile and I haha we are learning how unbelievably important communication is and how impossible this work is and keeping the companionship of the Spirit if we aren't communicating with each other. I'm learning a lot about myself this transfer-- strengths and lots of weaknesses haha. I love seeing God's hand in my life-- teaching me and pushing me to grow constantly. I know He knows me better than I know myself and I am so grateful I have the opportunity each day to help people realize that same thing. That's what we teach everyday, lesson one, God is our loving Heavenly Father and He has a plan for you! Ah this gospel is so true and perfect. 

I love you all and pray for you always. Thanks for your examples and love! Ingat kayo palagi!!

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact: This one is a little gross--- actually super gross but I'm going to share it anyways--- the men here have absolutely no shame! No matter where you are-- in the middle of a busy street, in a quite neighborhood or looking out the window in a jeepney on the highway-- you will see men peeing (for lack of a gentler term). Almost every wall you will see "Bawal umihi dito" [It's against the rules to pee here] written in spray paint but you will almost always also see a man doing just that against the wall haha its ridiculous. You just learn to always look straight ahead when walking down the street :)

This is the road that we usually take out to get out to our area. Whenever we have rain in turns into an absolute river. This is an awful picture but the other night we got stranded and stuck in a jeepney forever and then gave up and started to try walking. I felt like I was part of some mass exodus. There were tons of people just walking down the street that had also abandoned jeepneys and hords of people who were driving motorcycles that couldn't go anywhere because the water was too high. "Its more fun in the Philippines!" :)

 Elder and Sister Echo Hawk

 Sister Baile and I in front of the Manila MTC. I love that sister!

Masaya ako dito :)

Hey family!

Thank you so much for your emails. I seriously look forward to them so much every week and they give me just the energy I need to work hard for another week :) For whatever reason this week was a hard one for missing home. I think its because the excitement of being in a new area has warn-off and I am my "trunky" for my old area and for all of you back in the states... but don't worry Sister Baile and I am still working like crazy, loving it and just getting into the groove after the changes with transfers.

This week we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders and I had the chance to go work Meycawayan with Sister Winger in her area. It was fun to see a new area and SO weird being back with an American. While we were working that day we truly got to witness the Lord's hand in the work. We were working with this amazing older woman in their ward and while the two of them were talking I started talking to this little boy just chilling playing with a ball. We started playing catch and he was SO adorable. Then we were ready to head to a new area and I said good-bye to him. As we were walking a way I felt someone grab my head and looked down so see him just walking alongside me. I felt the urge to ask him where his home was. He pointed down this tiny dark alley and I just felt that we were supposed to go down there, but it didn't even look like it was possible for a home to be down there and we were working with the older woman who I definitely didn't want to take down there. I just whispered to Sister Winger that another day they should come back and see if there was anything to it. After we were done working with the member Sister Winger said we should just go back now. So headed back and started down the tiny alley. We climbed over garbage, poop and who knows what else and as I got to the end I saw a little opening in the wall. I called out to see if anyone was there and a little old woman came out. I awkwardly explained who we were, not knowing why I had felt we needed to go to this house. She promptly invited us in and I thought perfect this is why we're here. We climbed down into this TINY house that was literally just a square and the entrance had about six inches of water in it. Sitting inside the room was also a young man about 25. We introduced ourselves and he suddenly said, "I used to be a mormon!" Then I KNEW that was why we were there. To make a long story short throughout the rest of the lesson different people would randomly come into the home--- sometimes they were "former-members" and sometimes they were simply interested. I don't know what happened with that family since we were in Sister Winger's area but I'm so grateful for the opportunity we have to be an instrument in the Lord's hand. 

Heavenly Father keeps teaching me how aware He is of His children. This work is by far the hardest thing I have ever done and it is teaching me more everyday. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this work and am excited this week to work on better showing/feeling God's love for His children to be a better instrument in His hand. I am constantly realizing how inadequate I am but I am grateful for His help everyday. Thank you for your prayers and support. It means the word!

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
Once the, as the Filipinos say, "-Ber Months" hit Christmas instantly starts. It is already talking about in everyday conversation and we regularly sing/hear Christmas songs haha its great.

David and Goliath


Well this week was fun and exciting. I am now getting settled into my new area Malanday 2nd in the Valenzuela Zone. It is an amazing area and the people are unbelievably welcoming and kind. I am smack in the middle of city which is taking some getting used to. We spend A LOT of time stuck in jeepneys in the middle of traffic. But its all good because it gives us time to talk to more people and they have no choice but to listen to us because they can't go anywhere :) This transfer is already pushing me so much more to talk to people, anywhere and everywhere and I love it! 

As for my new companion...Sister Baile....she is AMAZING! I love her so much and we get along so well. First of all, Heavenly Father and President Sperry must have quite the sense of humor putting us together because she is by small the smallest missionary in our whole mission and I am the tallest sister. Sister Baile likes to call us David and Goliath and the ward has started referring to us as that too :) Second, she is my first Filipina companion and our kabahay (other sisters living with us) are also Filipina so I literally NEVER speak English except for a half and hour each night to help Sister Baile with her English. It is amazing how much my Tagalog is improving and how much I'm realizing I really can do. I love it. Third, she is only one transfer ahead of me in the mission so we are learning a lot together which is pushing me a lot not really having someone to turn to and ask what to do but I love it and I'm great how much it is making me grow.

I'm learning so much about myself on this mission everyday; Heavenly Father never ceases to teach me something new or reteach me something I continue to struggle with. Something I learn this week in my personal study that I hadn't realized before I found in Preach My Gospel. On page 173 in the Study the Scriptures section it says that faith in Christ is a gift from God that comes through obedience to His commandments. I loved that! I had never thought of my faith in my Savior as a gift from my Heavenly Father, but now that I have I know its true. I love that despite all of our weaknesses and the natural man in us (Mosiah 3:19) as we are exactly obedient the Lord will expand our capabilities/capacities as well as our faith in Christ. It reminded me of a promise Elder Scott gave us while I was in the MTC. He said, "You will have peace when you feel you are stretched beyond your capacity." He went on to say that we have been called to succeed and the Lord would fit the task to our capabilities. I know that's true. I have felt it over and over again!

Well I love you all like crazy and I'm so grateful for all you do! Thank you so much for the emails, letters and packages you send. I'm sorry if it takes me a long time to respond but I hope you know how much they mean to me. I'm so grateful for all of you and your love and support! I have the best family and friends. MAHAL NA MAHAL KO KAYO!
Love always,
Sister Porter

Sister Baile and I

 FHE with the Single Adults

Bored on the jeepney ride and taking advantage of being the last ones in the jeep

Comparing our leg lengths :)

"...and the rains came tumbling down"

Hello Family!!

The time just keeps going faster and faster and I don't know what to do with myself. Sister Walker and I only have one more week together and its killing me! I love that sister and I still have SO MUCH to learn from her. Missions are full of SO many changes and I'm learning to be okay with it :)

This week was pretty slow as far as work went because we had lots of meetings but we still have fun and learned a lot and extended some more baptismal dates that were excepted. I'll let you know what happens as we get closer to their baptismal dates :)

This week I also experienced my first real flood in the was CRAZY!!! Last Monday we were supposed to have a typhoon or bagyo come through and were told not to go out if the wind got too bad. It ended up not being bad at all and most of the wind came through while we were sleeping. But everyone gave us the craziest looks and asked us why we were out working when there was a bagyo. Well yesterday there was no bagyo (storm) just "low pressure" as they all call it but there was WAY more wind and WAY more rain. I don't really get what they classify as a storm :) Anyways, we went to teach Kirsten (our recent convert) and her sisters and after our lesson we walked outside and there was literally a river where the street used to be. IT WAS INSANE and moving so fast! Everyone was laughing at me because I was freaking out. Supposedly it gets way worse but I was pretty impressed by it. So we just headed out to get to our next appointment. Rain or shine we work unless we're told to stop :) Kirsten and her sisters walked with us for a bit because they wanted to see me try and walk through the baha (flood). Also, I am just so glad it was dark because for all I knew the water was crystal clear and clean but Kirsten kept telling me there was ipis (cockroaches) floating in it and randomly things would just hit your legs and I'd freak out a bit. All and all my first flood was exciting and fun and I'm just glad there wasn't any damage done in our area and we could work.

In our last Zone Conference, President taught us about how we all placed our faith and trust in Christ once before this life when we chose to follow him, and didn't let us down when he accomplished the Atonement and submitted His will to the Father for us. Now we have to exercise our faith in Him again and it is our turn not to let Him down. I love that I get to spend 18 months helping people remember the trust and faith they once had in their older brother. I love this work! The Lord amazes me with His tender mercies and blessings everyday. I love you all and pray for you always!

Love always,
Sister Porter 

I wore jeans for the first time in 4 months and probably won't again before I come home haha because its so hot but it was super exciting.

Our Kitchen- Sister Walker is teaching me how to cook :)

Sister Vanessa (ward missionary and I

A really awful picture of the flood. That is in the middle of the street. I promise I was not being disobedient and playing in a pond.


Just riding in a tricycle on the way to church :)