Sunday, August 10, 2014

"Everlasting Beginnings"

Dear Family,

Is this really it? I honestly can't wrap my mind around the idea that next Monday I won't be in a computer shop writing you another email while wiping sweat off my forehead. I always wondered how the last email would feel and what I would say. I think what I imagined was correct....the way I feel and things I'm thinking really aren't expressible and a simple email definitely isn't adequate but I'll do my best :)

This week was fabulous. Truly one filled with miracles. 

I went on my last exchanges as a sister training leader, a calling I will also be grateful for. We had the opportunity to go back to my first area. Of course it was an incredible experience working in my first area my last week in the field. While there I received the best ending to an already cherished mission. Maricel Pedral, the less-active women we found my first week in the Philippines, went through the temple! Visiting her and listening to her describe how she felt as she finally made it to the temple was a glimpse of heaven will be like. When we surprised her at her home she came barreling out the door and straight into my arms. After we hugged, I pulled her back and said, "I hear you have news for me!" She got the biggest grin, yelled, "YES!" and proudly rolled up her sleeve to show me her garments :) I love this sister so much. She lives in the poorest circumstances, but never ceased to keep a smile on. She explained that before going to the temple they went to the small distribution center (PBO) to buy garments. While in line a couple offered to buy her garments for her. This truly is a miracle as she likely didn't know how she was going to pay for it. She said, "The blessings started before we ever even got inside the temple!"   Saying goodbye to her was so hard. We hugged and cried, laughed and promised to be best friends in the next life if we don't meet again in this one. I was also told that the Pramoso family, another less-active family we worked with, will be sealed this September!

This week and the ending of my mission has only filled me with increased gratitude for God's goodness, His perfect plan and timing. There were many times on my mission that I knew I was doing all I could and the Lord was proud of me, but I still didn't feel successful as a missionary, however in the last few months He has shown me in so many ways the fruits of my labors and it has been humbling. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that this is His work and we are merely His instruments. The thought of removing my nametag brings me to tears and the thought of saying goodbye to all those I love here only makes the tears continue to flow. Last conference President Uchtdorf gave a talk that perfectly describes my feelings...

"In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life, they seem unacceptable to us? There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.

Why is this? Because we are made of the stuff of eternity. We are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God, whose name is Endless and who promises eternal blessings without number. Endings are not our destiny.
The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all. They are merely interruptions-- temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.

How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."

I am so grateful to know that the ending of my mission isn't really an ending at all, rather a time to move on to what the Lord has in store both for me and the people here. I know that because of the plan of salvation we will all live again and if we are worthy return to the God we love. I know that, be it now or in the next life, I will see these people again, but until then we all have a great a glorious work to continue. I know that this church is true from the very depths of my heart. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called to bring this restored truth to the earth in our day. I know that we have a living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, who has all power and revelation from God and we will be protected and kept safe as we follow him. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and we can find peace as we search its pages. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father and He knows us each individually And I know that Christ is our Savior, He lives and I love Him with all my heart. I will eternally be grateful for the time He has given me to represent Him in the Quezon City North Philippines mission.

Paalam sa aking minamahal na bansa, ang Philipinas. Salamat sa lahat na ibinigay nyo sa akin.

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:

I love this crazy country and words are most definitely not adequate to explain it to you. Someday we'll just have to all come here together and you can witness it for yourself :)

Sister Maricel with her temple recommend. We couldn't be happier.

See you soon in the U.S.A :)

"I Need Thee Every Hour"

Hey Family!

As always we had a great week but we were absolutely all over the place this week so I am just give you a nice little list:

Monday: My last transfer announcements. Its been fun to wait anxiously every 6 weeks to see where you are going and how your life will change. Sister Benesch and I will just stay together until I'm finished and then my replacement will transfer here. I'm really happy about it :)

Tuesday: I had my exit day and final interview with the missionaries going home on transfer day [since Sister Loo and I are going home in the middle of the transfer]. It was the strangest experience. On the bus ride there I got super emotional and all dramatic looking out the window at the people and scenes that I love and pretty soon won't see for a long time, but after I got that out of my system it was just a fantastic spiritual high. We had a barbque for the first time in 18 months with REAL potatoe chips!! We had an incredible workshop with President Bertin and a really sacred testimony meeting. It was crazy seeing all the missionaries I've worked so close with and respect so much climb into the vans with their luggage and head out. Sister Loo and I just kept saying we were glad it wasn't us yet :) and we got dropped off by the APs back in our areas.

Wednesday: Sister Benesch and I had to help a new sister who was transfering travel across our mission to Malolos. We spent hours in buses, fx (like big taxis), jeepneys and just about anything else you can imagine. It was exciting to be back in Malolos for a bit even if it was only an hour. I loved being assigned in the province and miss it so much!

Thursday: We had a service project building a house for some members. It was a blast mixing cement Pilipino style and passing it up homemade ladders one missionary at a time. 

Friday: I had my last Mission Leadership Council meeting. It was weird to realize that I won't be there to see the fruits of a lot of what we were discussing. It was an incredible meeting though. My favorite part however was talking to a sister who had done exchanges in my old area in Malolos. She said that she had met Evelyn (the sister I mention a lot that was less-active and came to church after we smiled at her). Anyways she asked the missionary if she knew me and when she said yes she told her the whole story, with the help of her husband who was standing next to her. Evelyn said she saw Sister Ayub and I walking and when we said smiled at her she felt prompted to try and find the church again. After doing she we began meeting with her and she began to transform. Every week we tried to get her husband Dandilo to listen but he always avoided us. One day we unfortunately saw Dandilo abusing Evelyn while under the influence of drugs. After that Evelyn didn't come to church for many weeks and we tried to continue to love and support her. Although we were tempted to be angry with Dandilo and we were sorry she decided to stay with him we tried to still show love and respect towards him. Each week we continued to invite him to the lessons and each week he continued to refuse, however, he began coming closer and closer as we taught and trying to make himself look busy. After that I was transferred and didn't know what had happened. At this point, Dandilo told this missionary that although I didn't know he was listening to the lessons he always was and it was changing him. He opened his wallet and showed him a picture I had sent Evelyn and her and I. He said he began feeling the need to give up his addictive habits and attend church. I learned that he now comes to church with Evelyn every Sunday in a white shirt and tie as well as attends other ward functions throughout the week. Evelyn and him are working on their paper work for their marriage and his baptism. God truly is a God of miracles!

Sunday: Butch Pagunsan came to church and blessed the sacrament in his new white shirt and tie for the first time!!! To make the day even more special his son then passed the sacrament to us. Then Butch bore his testimony for the first time in sacrament meeting about his gratitude for all who had helped him on his journey and about the truthfulness of the restored gospel and his desire now to share it with others so they can experience this joy. I love that family so much and my heart breaks at the thought of saying goodbye to them!

Throughout my mission whenever I have had distracting thoughts, feel overwhelmed, scared or basically at anytime I have sung to myself the song, "I Need Thee Every Hour". It has constantly filled me with strength to keep going, to be more, to trust him and that Him always comes in our hour of need. I testify that that is true. I have experienced it daily and seen the effects of the Savior's hand in others lives. I love you all!

Love always,
Sister Porter

Filipino Fun Fact:
In order to use our phones we have to have something called load that I actually have no idea how to explain ha but basically its like a gun that when you use it you have to reload and buy more. It really random and not very efficient ha but now its all I know. 

Exit Day

Service project.

Mixing cement and building houses :)

Pagod na pero napakasaya parin

Hello all!

So this is going to be one of those emails where I just throw everything out there and hopefully you can decipher it because I am functioning on about half my brain at this point. Sister Loo and I woke up at 4:00 am this morning to travel to the immigration office for finger printing... we are leaving the country and the closer it gets the more scared I get and the more I just want to stay here. I like mission problems dealing with salvation a whole lot more than I like money, jobs, school, etc. :) But its all good. Straight from immigration I met up with Sister Benesch again and we taught a workshop in the "Meet the President" meeting which we will be doing again this Wednesday. It was a lot of fun and we got to teach on our favorite topic-- working with members. We also gave a workshop last week in zone training on gaining perspective which was really neat. Then we had exchanges with the sisters in Camarin, so basically we have just been all over the place. 

Now for the best news, BUTCH PAGUNSAN IS GETTING BAPTIZE!. I don't think I can adequately express how much this means to him, us, the ward, everyone. It has been such a trail of everyone's faith and such an incredible journey with so many miracles every step of the way. On Friday as we were doing our weekly planning when we got a call from President Bertin and the first thing he said was, "Your prayers have been answered." and then he went on to explain that he had received word that Brother Butch may be baptized as soon as possible. Such an incredible day. I know this probably doesn't make a lot of sense since I haven't told you a lot of his story but I will save that for in person because there is no way I can adequately do it through an email. When we got the news, we cried, screamed and jumped up and down and went as soon as possible to their home. They were so excited and we then went on to teach about temples and eternal families. Ah it was an incredible experience and they are already looking forward to being sealed July 2015. This Saturday Butch and his son Ace will be baptized which means their family will all be new members, except for their 3-year-old son, Elias. We joke that every Sunday the Pagunsan's life changes and its so true. This Sunday, Sally got a calling in Relief Society, Andrie got the priesthood, Christian said the prayer in primary and Ace was interviewed for baptism. Then Sunday evening we taught our other part-member family who is working toward baptism and marriage in the Pagunsan's home and it was incredbile to hear them testify of the truthfulness of the gospel and how they overcame different difficulties in searching for the truth. I don't know if this makes any sense but basically this past weekend was the happiest I've ever been, where answered prayers and miracles and the hand of the Lord were seen :)

On another side note, after finishing a service project cutting grass for a member with machettes looking horrible and covered in dirt we went as a district to McDonalds for lunch. As we walked in the doors we all just stopped and stood in shock for a moment. The room was full of white people our age nicely dressed and ordering food. It was the most shocking thing to see, like honest culture shock. We ended up talking with them and they were missionaries from a Christian denomination from America teaching about Christ from school to school. They are all here for 2-5 weeks and it was pretty funny when one of them asked how long we were here for and an elder about to go home answered, "Two years..." It was actually a really impactful experience to be on the other-side of talking to missionaries and wondering what they are doing here and what their motives are. It made me appreciate all the more my calling and every interaction I have with the people here. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to represent my Savior and only hope that I adequately do so. 

I love you all!! Mahal ko kayo. Ingat palagi.

Love always,
Sister Porter

 Service project Filipino style

Breaking the news to the Pagunsan family about the baptism!!

                     Ward garden project to grow and plant food for those in the ward who have very little