Sunday, March 23, 2014

Everyone knows everything.

So this week was full of adventures and fun times.  The fun began on Tuesday.  While waiting for 3 hours on the highway for my new companion to arrive, I began to get a migraine and I actually vomited on the street.  I know that is not the most appetizing way to begin my weekly stories, but it actually ended up being really funny because in the Philippines, everyone knows everything about everyone.  That means that in a few hours all of the members and investigators in our area knew that I had vomited earlier on the highway.  In every home we entered this week, the first thing said was, "Sister Copeland, nagvomit ka ba sa highway?"
My new companion is awesome.  Sister Brewer is super tall and is from St. George, Utah.  We are loving working together and are really sticking out like sore thumbs here in Sanchez Mira.  It is hard to hide when you are American, but even harder to hide if there are two of you. 
The most interesting part of the week is when the Lord presented us the opportunity to share with a member of Iglesia ni Cristo, possibly the most anti-Mormon church in the Philippines.  As missionaries, we respect their beliefs and respect them as fellow Christians, but we do not seek them out and teach them.  This member seemed to find us as we arrived to teach some of our investigators.  We taught our investigators, but the member of INC raised many objections to our teachings.  We testified to Him of the truthfulness of our message and closed our lesson.  He left and as we were speaking with our investigators, they told us that they did not feel the same way they normally feel when we share with them.  They could not feel the Spirit, even though they did not realize that that was the missing ingredient.  I know our message is true and those we teach know it is true because the Lord testifies its truthfulness to them through the Holy Ghost. 
The work here has been going good.  We are really focusing on our investigators and finding those that the Lord has prepared for the gospel.  Walter is one of the individuals that the Lord has prepared to receive the gospel.  He is 23 and ready to follow the Lord.  He has struggles, especially with smoking and drinking, but he knows that he can overcome all of His struggles with the help of the Lord.  I hope that I will be here in Sanchez when he is baptized.  When we taught him this week, we discussed his lack of
progress.  We asked him what more we can do to help him overcome the challenges he is facing.  He said, "Sisters, I have the scriptures, I know the gospel and its standards, I know what the Spirit feels like, now it is up to me; this is my personal choice."  Walter was right and I know that he knows how to righteously exercise his freedom of choice.  When we understand the Spirit, use the scriptures, and follow the commandments, we have all the help we need to chose the right.  It really is all about our personal choice. 
Many unexpected things happen to us as missionaries each day.  A few days ago, an investigator called us out for not "being sincere."  We set him straight right away and explained how much we love all of the people we teach, how we pray for them many times each day, how we fast for them, how we cry for them, study the scriptures to find answers for them.  I am a sincere missionary.  I am here for eighteen months.  I love what I do and I love the people I serve.

Learn more about the standards we hold:

I want to ride a carabao...

 It is actually my most important life goal right now.  They are the ugliest, smelliest animals. but there are always crazy Filipino men riding them around in our area.  If my career plans in America do not work out, you may find me farming carabao here in the Philippines.
This week was full of fun surprises.

1. There was a coach roach in my desk.  My snack stash has been relocated to the fridge.  
2. Speaking of relocation, my companion is relocating to another area of the mission tomorrow along with two other sisters who have served with us here in Sanchez.  It will be hard to say goodbye to Sister Purification, but I am excited to work with Sister Brewer.  We are already good friends and served beside each other in Laoag.  
3. The diet is a struggle, but we are trying our best.  Rice is everywhere.  
4. We bought a huge container of "crocodile oil" conditioner for our hair.  It was 70 pesos ($2.00 USD). Is it really made of crocodile oil? Of course not! Is our hair soft and silky?  Yes!

It was a great experience to see Irenio Jr. baptized a few days ago.  He has made huge sacrifices to adhere to the standards of the gospel.  Only a short time ago, I thought he would be the last person in the world to become a member of the Church. But he committed to live the gospel standards, not drink or smoke, live a virtuous life, and stand as a witness of Jesus Christ.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of hope and change for all of God's children, regardless of how lost they are.  As a missionary for the Lord's Church, I want to try my hardest to bring all souls unto Christ.  Learn more about my work and the work of 80,000+ young adults like me:

This is the work of the Lord.  There is nothing else quite like it.   If any of you are sitting on the edge, get out there and serve the Lord.  I like a story I heard a few days ago.

I was close to a cliff and the Lord told me to come to the edge.  I told the Lord, "I can't."  But he told me, "Come to the edge."  I told the Lord that I couldn't but he insisted that I did.  I waited, unable to move.  I told the Lord again, "I can't."  Then, the Lord pushed me off of the cliff and I flew.

I am flying right now.  Sometimes I feel like the Lord is walking with me and my companion.  That does not mean that this is easy, but bringing souls unto Christ is the the true work of God.  Alam ko po na ang ebanghelyo ni Jesucristo ay totoo.  And Simbahan ni Jesucristo ng mga Banal sa mga Huling Araw ay totoo.  Sometimes I am discouraged because Tagalog is hard and Ilocano (the language most spoken here) is seemingly impossible to understand, but the Lord is helping me each day.  I promise to do my best and to save our brothers and sisters here in the Philippines.  

Love you all!

Learn about the Church in the Philippines and how we have helped others to come unto Christ after the recent tragedy in Tacloban:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Let Them Eat Cake!

The giant America package came this week.  A shout out goes to my mom and also to Bishop for bringing it across the world for me.  The best parts of the package included a cake mix, granola, and and extremely mini and awesome umbrella. As for the cake mix, it took it a long time for us to figure out how to make it.  Ovens are nearly nonexistent in the Philippines, but using our creativity, we made pancakes out of our cake mix.  It was excellent. My mother also kindly sent some old pictures of me and my friends from high school and college.  These pictures immediately struck a conversation in the apartment how I was much prettier and...skinny....before the mission.  We are going on a diet!  Less rice and more jogging!  Good thing the cake mix is already gone.

Here are some of the more spiritual highlights of the week:
1. We met a Methodist missionary who called us over and immediately asked us for a "Mormon Bible."  She told us that she wants to learn more about Jesus and asked us a series of questions about the contradictions of religion and science.  She was a little bit of a crazy person and talked about a mile a minute, but it was cool to interact with someone also trying to bring souls unto Christ.  For more information on the "Mormon Bible:"
2. We committed Gladys Fillomena to baptism.  She is a member of the most anti-Mormon Church in the Philippines but understands that through the Restored gospel, we have the complete gospel and accompanying authority of God on the earth.  For more information on the Restored gospel :
3. Irenio Jr. is all set to be baptized this week.  It is great to see the members of his family see his example.  They desire to follow him because they see that he has been made happier through the gospel.  We hope his dad and older brother soon commit to the standards of the gospel and feel the joy that Irenio Jr. has already acquired.  To learn more about the Perfect Example:

In other news, my companion is really trying to grow her English vocabulary.  Her English is already nearly perfect but I am helping her to learn new words that she picks out of the dictionary.  I thought it would be a good service to help her learn the language of my people, but it has completely backfired.  One of yesterday's words was "obnoxious," and now when she finds any opportune time, she calls me obnoxious.  Maybe we will focus on more positive words that she can use to describe me, like "brilliant" and "gorgeous."

I have an inspirational story for all of you!

Twenty Dollars
Author Unknown

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked. "Who would like this $20 bill?"

Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you - but first, let me do this."

He proceeded to crumple the 20 dollar note up. He then asked. "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air.

"Well," he replied, "what if I do this?" He dropped it on the
ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now, who still wants it?"

Still the hands went into the air.

"My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No
matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20."

As we read in Doctrine and Covenants, "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God."  I know that the Lord is our Shepherd, willing to find the one lamb that has wandered.  He loves us.  He communicates with us through the Holy Ghost; we may have chills, feel peace or inexplicable happiness, or we may hear a whisper.  He wants us to know that we are His children.  He wants us to return to Him. Have a great week!  Ayo ayo!

Learn more about me and what I believe: