Monday, August 26, 2013


You never want Brother Mark Jhay, the Ward Mission Leader, “tao poing” outside of your house in the morning, especially the day of your scheduled baptisms!  But everything works out because the Lord always provides.  There was no water at our chapel, so we held the baptism at the San Lorenzo Chapel.  The ward paid for a jeepney to transport us all (only in the Philippines, people) and the baptisms of RJ, Benedick, Zyra, and Girlie took place on Saturday night.  I feel blessed to have taken part in four very true conversions here in San Nicolas.  These individuals have strong spirits and they are willing to follow the Lord at whatever cost.  They have all made sacrifices and will continue to do so to remain true members of the Lord’s church. 
Sister Abuel and I have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks.  We already had to fight the rain this week.  On Tuesday it was bawal to leave the apartment because two missionaries in another part of the Philippines were electrocuted while walking through a flooded area.  It is raining all the time here, and it is hard when we cannot go to certain areas because of high waters.  We only have a few investigators now with baptismal dates and we are now in need of new investigators.  I have a strong testimony that the Lord is preparing many people to receive the gospel now, but these individuals are not going to find us.  It is our duty as missionaries to find these people, to be in-tune with the Spirit so that we will know where they are. 
I am attaching some pictures this week! Some super members got Sister Abuel and I matching t-shirts so we look super awesome.  I would say that we were are twins, but as I discovered this week, I weigh double what my companion weighs.  But, have no fear, I have not gained any weight here! We actually had interviews with President Barrientos this week and Sister Barrientos brought her scale.  Despite the ridiculous amounts of rice I consume daily, I am still the same size!
I hope that you are all happy and healthy wherever you are.  I cannot say I miss home that much, but I miss talking to all of you.  I am blessed to understand my purpose here as a missionary.  I need to be here right now.  The Lord needs me to be here right now.
Mahal na mahal kita!
P.S.  I am getting super tan here.  I obviously am still the whitest thing around, but I am proud of my current skin tone.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sobrang Wet Ako...

I have had another wonderful and busy week here in San Nicolas.  The rains come down and floods come up here, and because most people have built their houses on the sand, it gets really muddy.  The part I am trying to figure out is that when they say it is a typhoon, there is no rain, but when there is not a typhoon, oceans fall from the sky. 
As a missionary, I have become accustomed to seeing miracles happen in the lives of Church members and investigators alike.  It was great to see the Augustin family members return home this week after some rough days spent in the hospital and I am pleased to share that our four investigators who were interviewed for baptism this week are set and prepared, but events that took place in the lives of Zyra and Tessie were most inspiring to me. 
Last week, Zyra’s mother returned home for a break from her work in Lebanon.  We had been awaiting her arrival so that we could ask for her consent for Zyra’s baptism.  She told Zrya to tell us that her mom would not allow the baptism.  Sister Abuel and I were sad; Zyra’s 21-year-old brother would be baptized this month, but Zyra would not have the chance.  Then early this week, Zrya told us that her mom had changed her mom.  The official consent was given the next day and on Saturday Zyra proved herself worthy in her interview.  The Lord softens the hearts of his people.  Honest prayer and fasting will be rewarded with great blessings.
The other magnificent miracle concerns Tessie Tabios, a newer investigator who is suffering from Stage 1 cervical cancer.  Tessie had become depressed and discouraged from the great physical pain she has been forced to endure.  On Wednesday, two Priesthood holders were able to accompany us to her home to administer a blessing.  When Sister Abuel and I arrived to church on Sunday, Tessie was already sitting in a pew; it was her first time at church. She excitedly thanked us for bringing the Priesthood brethren to her home because she now had no pain; we responded by telling her to thank Him above instead.
In other news, this week’s cultural lesson will be on the many expressions and mannerisms of the Filipino people. 
1.       1. No need to answer “yes.”  Here, we answer by lifting our eyebrows.  Seemingly offensive in the US, yet completely acceptable here in the Philippines.
2.       2. Can you repeat that?  If you do not understand, just open your mouth and leave it hanging.  In the US, people would look at you as if you were crazy, but here it just means, “can you say that again?”
3.       3. When summoning someone, do not do so with your palm upwards.  That is what Filipino prostitutes do.  Make a brushing motion with your palm down if you want someone to come your way.  I have made the prostitute mistake marami beces.
4.       4. Do not use your finger to point, instead use your lips.  It seems like all of those “duck-face” pictures I took in my middle school years are paying off. 
I love you all and I want to hear from you!  Shoot me some good ol’ snail mail!
Sister Copeland
Philippines Laoag Mission
Brgy. 50 Buttong, Airport Avenue
Junction Tangid Road, Laoag City 2900
Ilocos Norte, Philippines
Missionary work is a divine work.  I know that the Lord is present in my life and the lives of all those I work with.  I have never made a more difficult decision to come out and serve the Lord, but I never had been so grateful for making a decision in my life.  God blesses those who serve Him. 

P.S.  If anyone has the mission address for Ben Johns in Chile,  could you please send it to me?  I am dying to send that kid a letter!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Funny Story!

First of all, thank you for the marami at marami letters that I received this week! I only get mail every six weeks, but I was thankful to hear from so many of you!  If you sent me mail to the MTC after I left, I got your mail, too!  And Illia, it took exactly 12 days for your letter to arrive here. 
So, the news of the week is the category three typhoon that passed through Ilocos this morning.  We were told by President Barrientos that we could not leave our apartments today, but the typhoon got stage fright and never showed up.  I was excited to see this amazing Filipino storm, but there were only about three gusts of wind.  I am not leaving until I see a real typhoon!
It has been another busy week here.  Sister Abuel and I have been teaching many people.  Sadly, this week Sister Augustin and three of her children were in a tricycle accident with a drunk driver.  Sister Agustin and two of her children are still in the hospital.  The prayers of many people have been with the Augustin family this week, and their great faith is carrying them through this difficult time. I know that faith works.  When we show the Lord that we believe in his power, miracles do happen.  I love the Augustin family very much; in many ways they are my home away from home.  They are blessed because they believe. 
This week’s cultural lesson will be on leisure time in the Philippines.  People have a lot of free time here and they like to sit around, talk, and relax.  It is quite common to hear the atrocious sounds of karaoke floating through the streets here.  I do not know where this national obsession originated from, but it hurts my ears.  Also, basketball is huge here.  The kids often ask me if I have met any NBA players in the US.  In addition to karaoke and basketball, many people play bingo here.  It is hard to see so many people gambling their little money, especially members. 
This week’s funny story goes to a scary tricycle driver.  A few days ago while walking down the street he serenaded me, and then a day or two later he got the guts to talk to me.  The conversation went like this (I have translated into English for your convenience):
TD: Do you have a spouse?
SC: No.
TD: Do you have a girlfriend?
SC: No, but do you mean boyfriend?
TD: Yes, do you have a boyfriend?
SC: No.
TD: I love you.
SC: Okay.
TD: I love you.  I love you. I love you. I love you.  I love you.  I love you. I love you. I love you.
*I am not really sure how many “I love yous” there were, we just ignored him and went on our way.   The best thing about it is that stuff like this happens all of the time.  People are obsessed with being white here; it is so bizarre.  In the US, all of the products that are sold are to make you tan, but here, everything has a whitening agent.  And when I say everything, I mean it.
I love the Philippines.  I am excited that I have been entrusted with the opportunity to deliver the blessings of the Gospel to the people here.  The Church is so very true.  The people here know it and they live it. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hello Po!

This week was a productive one for Sister Abuel and I.  We finally reached the 30 lesson goal we have been aiming for and we are happy that we were able to do so.  We always have more improvements to make and more goals to reach, but reaching a goal like this motivates us to continue working hard.
It was Sister Abuel’s birthday this week and she turned 22!  Because we were pretty much broke this week because it was the last week of the month, Sister Abuel (with help from me) convinced herself that she would not be getting  much because we were poor.  But being the amazing party planner that I am, I expertly planned marami suprises for lahat ng araw.  We decorated her room, I gave her the oh so cutest framed picture of us, and we got her cake. Thanks to Sister Tantiado and Ieremia for all of the help in keeping the suprises on the DL all week!  We also celebrated that night at a member’s home and had yummy food and yummy puto (a cake like thing made of lard…hahaha lard). 
The funny moment of the week goes to our investigator Jennica Nicolas (she is 11 and completely innocent).  After teaching a lesson to her, she asked if I was pregnant.  Yeah, just so everyone knows- I AM NOT PREGNANT…and I am not fat either, despite what all of the people here say.  It was really funny and now I am taking advantage of the fact that I have to eat for baby and me.
This week’s cultural lesson will be on animals.  The Philippines is like a giant zoo where animals can be found everywhere.  I like the chickens that are everywhere, personally, and there are more dogs in San Nicolas than the city of Las Vegas.  People eat dog here, but missionaries are not allowed because it is super unsafe.  I have not been offered dog yet, but I am sure someday I will. The cows here are hideous and have humps...I will try to send a picture of a cow next week.  There are also lots of cats.  We have like 5,000 living outside of our house since Sister Abuel and Tantiado decided to feed them one time.  I hate cats.  
I am getting excited for the 24th of this month.  Three amazing investigators of ours will be baptized on this day: RJ Lagat, Benedict Berbano, and Girlie Fiesta.  While teaching Benedict this week, Sister Abuel reminded me of a simple event of significance that I forgot about.  Four weeks ago we had a package to deliver to a member’s home.  I had been carrying around all day and although we did not have a lot of time, I insisted that we take a few minutes to just drop it of at the member’s home before our last appointment.  We were not planning on teaching the first lesson to Benedict that night, but something told me that we had to go to the Tinde home.  This week Benedict told us that he was also not planning to be at the Tinde home that night but he had felt like he should go there.  We were all listening to the Spirit that night and the choice we made to heed to its direction changed all of our lives.  This story is a simple one but it means a lot to me.  If I was not listening to the Spirit, if Sister Abuel was not listening to the Spirit, or if Benedict was not listening to the Spirit, Benedict might have never heard the gospel, he may have never received Jesus Christ, and he may have never been baptized.
I am really loving the work here.  Possibly the most rewarding part about being a missionary is hearing the first prayer of an individual.  These people are seeking God and have never known where to find him; now they talk to him every day.  I thought that I would inspire others by going on a mission;  I thought that I would change lives on my mission.  I have only been in the Philippines for five weeks, but it seems as though I am the one being inspired and I am the one being changed.