Sunday, April 27, 2014

A story and a kuwento.

A thought on the heart.(Source Unknown)

 "Grandpa, what you are whispering?" a boy asked, noticing that his grandfather was whispering something to himself before going to bed.

"I put a thought on the Heart…" grandfather said.

A boy was surprised; "What does it mean?"

Wise grandfather told him, "I do not want to quarrel with a neighbor who let me down, but I do not know how to behave. So I will put a thought on the Heart and go to sleep, and in the morning the Heart will tell me what to do."

"And where does the Heart know it from?"

"The Heart knows everything, I'm learning from it all my life. And I may advise you: when looking for an answer to a difficult question, when something is not clear, put a positive thought before going to bed at the Heart, and next morning the answers will be opened for you. Just do it with faith."

Becoming Christ-like is a hard and long process.  As we reflect on this season and on the death of our Savior I hope that we find small ways that we can be more like Him.  Maybe we can more fully apply the thought of "What would Jesus do?" to our lives as we live by faith and become more patient with the Lord. 
This week definitely gave me more opportunities where I could assess myself and become more humble.  Missionary work is the best kind of work there is, but it is often full of disappointments.  Sister Brewer and I expected the baptisms of Angeliq and Alyssa Obsipo to occur, but with only 12 hours before the planned service, they backed out and told us that they felt unprepared.  Although they had a complete understanding of the gospel, they were not ready because they had doubts.  I was sad and surprised, but I was immediately able to recognize the Lord's timing.  All things are done in His timing, not ours.  I know that Angeliq and Alyssa will get baptized.  It may be next week or next year, but I know it will happen.  They have faith and they love their Savior.  I have faith, too.  As Preach My Gospel states, “When you have done your very best, you may still experience disappointments, but you will not be disappointed in yourself. You can feel certain that the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you.”
I love this work.  This week I will leave Sanchez Mira and my family here.  I have been here for 6 months and I feel like I have been adopted as their Americana child.  (Did you know that "Americana" in Tagalog means "coat?"  That's true.)  I will miss this place but I know I now have work to do and lessons to be learned in Aparri.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Belief = Action

 This week was super great.  We worked super hard for five days and then we went on "mission vacation."  Obviously, there are no vacations on the mission or even days off, but we did spend the weekend in Ballesteros to watch General Conference.  The talks given by the Prophet and other leaders of the Church were extremely inspired and applicable to all of us.  We were lucky enough to get there on Saturday to view those sessions and we nervously left our members and friends in Ballesteros with a plan, just hoping that they would get to the Sunday sessions.  And they did!  It was a Conference miracle!  Our investigators gave up important funds and time to travel a total of four hours to hear the Prophet's broadcast.  Members and our recent converts did the same.

I would like to share portions of my favorite General Conference talk:

"For example, a sister missionary recently wrote to me: “My companion and I saw a man sitting on a bench in the town square eating his lunch. As we drew near, he looked up and saw our missionary name tags. With a terrible look in his eye, he jumped up and raised his hand to hit me. I ducked just in time, only to have him spit his food all over me and start swearing the most horrible things at us. We walked away saying nothing. I tried to wipe the food off of my face, only to feel a clump of mashed potato hit me in the back of the head. Sometimes it is hard being a missionary because right then I wanted to go back, grab that little man, and say, ‘EXCUSE ME!’ But I didn’t.”

To this devoted missionary I say, dear child, you have in your own humble way stepped into a circle of very distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said, “view[ed Christ’s] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and [borne] the shame of the world.”1y distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said, “view[ed Christ’s] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and [borne] the shame of the world.”1"

Like the missionaries in this story, or the members and their friends who sacrificed great funds to attend conference, the Lord needs us to sacrifice in our own ways to be believers and followers.   When you believe, you act.  When you understand the gospel, you will sacrifice for it.  I love the people here.  In America a drive for a few hours to a meeting is a simple task; here it is days of selling fish on the streets or washing many clothes of your neighbors.  This is just one way the Saints here sacrifice to live a "more excellent way."

"In keeping with the Savior’s own experience, there has been a long history of rejection and a painfully high price paid by prophets and apostles, missionaries and members in every generation—all those who have tried to honor God’s call to lift the human family to “a more excellent way."

Besides our conference miracle, our two baptismal candidates, Angeliq and Alyssa, passed their interviews this week.  It will be a wonderful event next week as they enter the waters of baptism and show their willingness to follow the example of Jesus Christ.  They are not nervous or scared to bear the name of the Lord.  They are proud to stand for what they believe.  

"Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them. "

I love conference and I love my mission.  We need to now take the time to act.  We need to listen to the prophet, believe, gain the faith, and adjust our lives so we can better follow the Lord.  A little adjustment here and there will help ourselves align our lives with the plan that God has for us.  

Check out my favorite conference talk by a real and living apostle:

Spider adventures.

Here are some of the funny moments that happened this week.

1.       A recent convert told me I should go on “The Biggest Loser” when I get off of my mission.  He clarified that I am not yet big enough to qualify, but that if I keep on the same track, I should be eligible in a few months.

2.       There was a gigantic spider in the apartment.  It descended from the wall onto the floor.  There was a lot of screaming coming from us sisters, but we gave it a good dose of bug spray and killed it with a flip flop.

3.       We ran out of rice because we forgot to buy it on our preparation day.  The Americans were fine but the Filipinos had some issues.  We thought they could make it one meal without the rice, but before we knew it, they left and came back with a whole bag of the white stuff.
4.    In the last few weeks, I have received many sketches that members and other missionaries have drawn for me.  The artists are convinced they are accurate and beautiful, but I am not sure if they lack talent or I lack beauty.

The weeks are flying.  I am becoming more and more keen at spotting the blessings of the Lord in the lives of those I serve.  This Sunday our members brought friends unexpectedly to church.  Small act of service and devotion like this are what fuels the Work of Salvation.  I am grateful for the 18 months that I have here to serve in the heat, the rain, and the wild dogs.  It is a sacrifice, yes, but the experiences I am gaining out-weigh the price of the sacrifice infinitely. 

Joseph Smith said, “ God will never institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote the happiness which he has designed and which will end in the greatest of good and glory to those who become the recipients of His law and ordinances.”  When we serve, we become happier.  That is a fact.  

This is what President Barrientos, my mission president, said this week:

Our Heavenly Father is always there, waiting for the opportunity to give us his encouragement and even extend to us his power.  He may not remove the challenges from us, but He will provide the strength and the opportunity for us to come out victorious.  We know that He is working as hard as He can for our success.  Knowing this will bring us strength and courage.  If we act on that courage we will discover a way has been provided by him for us to overcome the difficulty in finding, in teaching.  As we focus on pleasing the Lord rather than others and continue to work hard, we experience personal growth.  We increase our confidence in Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.  This faith assures us that in the end, we not only achieve our goal but we know the real meaning of joy and happiness.

I am praying for you always.  Ingat kayo lagi!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Learning to become a woman.

The funniest part of my week was definitely at a multi-zone training.  Sister Barrientos took all the sisters aside and gave us a "specialized training."  All of the sisters were a little bit nervous and we did not know what to expect, but we soon found out it was so that we can be more ladylike and prepared for our lives after the mission.  Some tips she gave us:
1. Walk like a lady by putting one foot in front of the other.
2. Keep your eyebrows in check and wear makeup. (This one was directed at our Filipina friends.  Sister Barrientos basically said, "Look at the white sisters.  They will help you to pluck your eyebrows and put  on mascara.")
3. Wear heels to church.
The whole thing was extremely funny. 
On a more spiritual note, we had some amazing experiences this week as we saw our investigators see the light and truth of the gospel.  One example is Aloha.  She is from Apayao, an area not yet open to missionary work.  She has lived here in Sanchez Mira where she has studied at a local college.  We have been teaching her on and off for a few months, but she does not seem interested in our message.  She made it clear that she is Catholic and plans to stay Catholic.  But this week, Aloha changed.  We were teaching her of the cleansing affects of baptism and the blessings it brings to our lives.  Then, quietly, she said to her roommates, "It is true."  Aloha graduates from college in only a few days.  Then she will return to Apayao and search for work.  She may not have contact with the missionaries for a very long time, but I know they will find her again and she will become a member of Christ's church.  I am sad that I will not witness her baptism and see her become cleansed fully from her sins, but she will have the opportunity someday.  I have even asked myself, "Were we too late? Why could she have not gained this testimony a few months ago?"  But I believe that God has His own timing and it is the best timing.
This applies to us also.  We have to respect God's timing.  We always invite those that we teach to pray to know if our message is true.  Although we know that what we teach is true, it is important that they come to know it is true for themselves.  It is hard when it takes a long time for their answer to come.  I do know that God answers every prayer when we are patient and obedient to Him.  "God's plans are better than ours.  That is why God doesn't always say yes; sometimes He says, "My child, allow me, for I have a better way."  Let's be patient with the Lord.  Let's wait on Him and not have Him wait on us.
MaHaL kO kAu!

Sister Copeland
Philippines Laoag Mission
Brgy. 50 Buttong, Airport Avenue
Junction Tangid Road, Laoag City 2900
Ilocos Norte, Philippines
I heard that the Biebs got arrested for drag racing.  He should have served a mission.

Angels we have heard on high...

Missionary work is full of surprises each day.  By the end of this week, Sister Brewer and I were convinced that it was not yet Reggie's time to accept the gospel. We said, "He just cannot give up his addiction to smoking!"  We gave him an ultimatum and invited him to accept the full gospel. A few evenings later we were speaking with him; he said, "Sisters, I really wanted to pay my tithing a church earlier, but there were no slips left to pay it."  We were shocked to learn that Reggie had been expressing his faith in ways we could not detect.  By living the Law of Tithing, although he is not yet even a member, he showed us his sincerity about accepting the gospel (  His family can barely afford food, does not even own blankets, and struggles each day to make it. Yes, he has an addiction he must still overcome, but he can do it as he continually expresses his faith in the Lord.  I am thankful the Lord gave us a way to show Reggie's seriousness about the gospel.  We might have left him, even though he had a strong desire to follow the teachings of Jesus.   

This week we taught Heizel.  She is a young wife and mother and is dedicated to following the Lord.  She is a member of another church, but welcomed us in to share about the gospel.  Heizel, like many people in the Philippines, likes to argue, "One god, right?"  People say this all the time to us as missionaries, their thought being that we all worship the same God and that it does not matter where you worship Him.  Our response as missionaries is always the same:"One God, one gospel, one truth, one atonement, one path, one way." Heizel told us that there was no way that she can believe that we are the only true church.  I told her that all of the churches are true, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the whole truth.  We have the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You will only find bits and pieces in other faiths.  This is the Church of Jesus Christ.  Jesus walked the earth and established this Church and it is on the earth once again.

In Helaman Chapter 5, we read, "...the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.
 And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls."  

I may not look like one, but I am an angel.  You are, too!  We do not need to have an angelic voice or wings to bring glad tidings unto our fellowmen.  Share the gospel and deliver the blessings of the Lord to those most in need of them.