Saturday, January 25, 2014

All Time Highs

Sister Purificacion and I taught 40 lessons this week.  Missionary work is not about numbers, but we measure our effectiveness as the Lord's servants by documenting our work.  The Lord has blessed us this week.  Sister Purificacion and I are all-stars and I am thankful that I have such a dedicated companion.  All of my companions on my mission so far have been fabulous and they each have taught me so much.  I hope that Sister Purificacion and I can serve together for the months before she returns to Tacloban.
This week was also really epic because the Fillomena children were baptized.  It was a good day and I was grateful to see them enter the waters of baptism after overcoming so much.  I cannot wait until this time next year when their family will be sealed in the temple.

Here is some other news from the week:

1. I stole cigarettes...from an investigator.  We were bold when teaching about faith and repentance and them followed up on his progress in following the Word of Wisdom.  He proceeded to take out his pack of cigarettes to show that he only smoked a half pack.  I got up and snatched that pack out of his hands.  We quickly disposed of it; do not worry.

2. My birthday!  Sister Storey gave me a watch....that ended up being broken.  The sisters also surprised me with cake and we celebrated at the Fillomena home. Funny thing is that 20 feels the same as 19. 

3. We played some intense volleyball this morning at a zone activity.  Too bad some very strong missionaries kept hitting the ball over the fence into the bukid (rice field).

Thank you for all the prayers, especially for my health.  I am doing important work out here in the Philippines and I am not going to let anything distract me from my purpose.  I am also really happy; an elder in my zone asked me today, "Sister Copeland, why are you always so happy?  You are the most smiley missionary here." I love you all!

Now check this out:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I saw a goat do a back flip.

Actually, I am not really sure about that, but I think I did.  We were on a bus from Sanchez to Laoag yesterday and I was waking up and saw the cutest little baby goat jumping around...and I think it did a back flip.
In other news, this week has been super busy.  Yesterday I traveled with Sister Incognito to Laoag so that I could pick up my new companion, Sister Purificacion.  I am sad that it is Sister Incognito's time to return with honor, but I am grateful for the 10 weeks that I was able to serve with her here.  She taught me countless lessons on how to become a better missionary and servant of the Lord. Sister Purificacion is my new companion.  She is from Laoag but is serving here in her home mission temporarily.  Her story is amazing.  She served for three weeks in Tacloban and will return there in a few months when it will be reopened.  I am grateful that we can serve together here in Sanchez.  She had the choice to not return to her mission, but she decided to finish her service to the Lord.  She is a great example to all of us.

Let's talk about the other interesting events this week.

1. This story began in December when I lost one of my name tags in Ballesteros at a zone activity.  A stranger returned it to the sister's apartment there and it was returned to me this week!  I was really sad that I lost it and it is a miracle that someone knew what is was and where the people live that wear those name tags.

2. I actually sent to Ballesteros on exchanges with Sister Gadiano.  It was super masaya doon.

3. The three Fillomena children passed their baptismal interviews.  It is a miracle how far they have all come to spiritual prepare for this important ordinance.  I cannot wait to witness their baptisms next week.

My mission is starting to get faster and faster.  Next month I will reach my half-way mark.  I am amazed at the personal growth I have undergone in the last months.  I am thankful for each day of my mission.  Sister Barrientos often tells us that "a mission is not forever."  Even though sometimes I think my mission will be forever, I know that someday it will also be my turn to return home.  I want to seize each day here on my mission.  I want to live my mission to the fullest and do every single thing I can to become the best I can be.

MaHaL KiTa!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dumarami ang mga tala...

So this week was pretty sweet because Irene was baptized.  I love Irene. And I promise I will send pictures next week.

Sorry if my blog post and emails are a little short this week.  I had big plans (like always) to write all of you this week, but our time is a little limited to email this week.  Sister Incognito received a surprising call this morning informing her that she will be returning home from her mission on January 15th, two weeks before her expected departure date.  This news caught us all off guard and I am sad that I will have to say farewell to my companion earlier than expected (especially on my birthday...what king of present is that?).  I also know that the Lord has a plan, though, and His plan is always better than my own.  I am thankful for Sister Incognito and the many lessons she teaches to me daily through her example.  Companions are awesome and we are going to work our hardest over the next days.

In other news, we have been super busy this past week teaching lessons and spreading the gospel.  Irenio Sr. and Reggie came to church yesterday.  That was a big deal and it is not hard to see the Lord softening their hearts.  Irenio asked us a few days ago why we must follow the Word of Wisdom, especially is doctors say that a little alcohol is healthy.  I had the opportunity to ask him where his faith was, in the Lord or in a doctor.  We also asked him if alcohol was more delicious than the blessings of the Lord.

Other fun news from the week:
1. We ate dinner at out landlady's house.  She is rich.  They own an iPad which was bizarre.  People just do not have iPads here.   
2. We taught 36 lessons.  Hopefully we will reach 40 this week.
3. The sun came out for a few days.  At least that is what I think it was.  I am still not sure.

I know that this is the true church.  There are so many churches on the earth declaring the gospel.  Each church declares truth.  But I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church with the full truth of the gospel.  

P.S. I love you.  Watch this awesome video and then send me some mail.

Sister Copeland
Philippines Laoag Mission
Brgy. 50 Buttong, Airport Avenue
Junction Tangid Road, Laoag City 2900
Ilocos Norte, Philippines

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bagong year, bagong buhay.

Christmas was super fun and I will attach some pictures to prove it.  It was not like the holidays in America- very few Christmas trees, no cookies, and few new toys.  I have to shout out to some of my awesome aunts for sending some awesome packages all the way out here!  Sister Incognito had a great time giving small gifts and celebrating with all of the people here in Sanchez.  We also ate a ridiculous amount of buko salad.  The days leading up to Christmas were really interesting actually because the jungle people seemingly descended out of the mountains of Apayao (the mountainous region visible from our apartment unopened to missionary work because of the NFA).  One women chased me down asking me for money.  These people are actually really interesting. They have very dark skin and curly hair (we are kindred spirits) and they have absolutely nothing.  It is sad to see them walk around without shoes.
For the first time in my life, I was only focused on others this Christmas.  We gave out small gifts to those we teach to help lift the spirits of those who could not afford the material Christmas.  I also gave away my personal Tagalog Bible on Christmas.  I was reading it in the morning and Sister Incognito suggested I give it to the Fillomena family.  "They need a better Bible," she said.  At first I was a little frustrated and did not want to give it away, but after reasoning with myself, I realized it was of more worth to them than to me.  Gifts that take thought and sacrifice are the most valuable.  

Also, Irene passed her baptismal interview a few days ago!  The day before she bore her testimony to us for the first time; it was powerful as she recounted her previous feelings and ideas of the missionaries.  She used to be scared of us and she used to hide.  She only had a baby a few weeks ago and she has given up so many things in her life to now become worthy for baptism.  I am excited to see her as she continues her journey in the gospel.

The new year is upon us!  Although I have never been huge on new year's resolutions, I do think it is valuable to take a personal assessment of the past year and find ways in which we can improve ourselves.  As a missionary, I am always focused on ways I can improve myself so that I can share the gospel with more people.  I even hope that through my blog, I can teach more people about what Mormon missionaries really do and the kinds of experiences we really have.
I hope that as this new year begins, you find new ways of sharing the gospel to those around you.  One unique way of sharing the gospel is through family history.  Is it not great that our ancestors who did not have the opportunity to learn the gospel on earth, have a second chance to do so ( )? The Church has established so many ways in which we can reach beyond the veil to rescue those that have already passed.  Indexing and familysearch are only a few ways.  I am thankful for my mother who has taken the initiative to find our ancestors and help others find their own through indexing.  I like to joke that while I am saving souls that are living, she is saving the ones that have died. Here are some cool stories my mom has had since she has begun to work on our family history:

Recently, I have had several amazing experiences related to family history.  I have felt the hand of the Lord bless me and my family members as I have delved further and further into geneology.  My efforts have been magnified by the Lord without question.

I was contacted by a second cousin not long ago who was doing some of her own research.  We started sharing information and I was able to add lots of new information about my dad`s side of the family in Germany.  She even shared a picture I had never seen before of a great-great grandmother.  A lot of valuable new information was obtained, but the best part is that I have a new friend! We were fortunate this Christmas to visit for an evening with my parents present also.  It was a wonderful evening and I know we will be touch for years to come.

Another distant relative from Germany contacted me and was so kind to share with me many pages of a book kept by the Catholic church in the town of Bodenheim, where my father`s family originates.  It contains names, dates, even occupations of some of our ancestors.  It was a treasure trove of previously unknown information.

I`ve had amazing experiences with my dealings with clerks at some of the cemeteries I have visited.  At Thanksgiving I was in New York City at one of the cemeteries attempting to resolve some family mysteries.  The gentleman at the desk was not in the mood to be helpful at first, but I could see his attitude change as we talked and by the end of the visit, we were chitchatting like old friends.  I know that the prayer I said before walking into that office was answered.  We were able to find the information we sought and some long-held uncertainties were clarified.

I have no doubt that Heavenly Father hears our prayers and rewards our efforts to find our ancestors and do the work necessary for them to live in the presence of God someday.  I feel blessed to have opportunities at this time in my life to do this work.  The experiences I have related are some of the highlights for me, but so many other things have happened when I am alone on my computer doing research that have been amazing to me.  I truly feel that God has blessed and directed my work in order to bless my life and the lives of my family.

In other news, our district visited the beach this morning.  I have a wicked sunburn now, but it was really awesome to walk on the sand for the first time of my mission.  We always pass the sea when we travel but we never go to it.  I cannot wait until the post-mission era of my life when I can actually jump in.  I also chased a duck down the street with my umbrella this week.  

I hope you are doing well.  It is good to hear from so many of you each week. Happy New Year!  Let's use this time to make minor adjustments that will help us come closer to Christ.  And please do not party too hard without me.