Monday, May 19, 2014

52 weeks and 52 lessons learned.

Lice, Lice Baby is the new song on my iPod this week.  Okay, that is a joke, but after trying to prevent myself from getting lice, I got it bad.  It is funny because in the US, if you have lice you need to clean everything you own and you can't go to school until you get rid of it.  Here it is not a big deal...except to me.  Besides the lice incident, something even worse happened to me this week- MY FIRST WHITE HAIR.  My companion kindly removed it from my head.  I am getting old.  Actually, this week is my 1st birthday!
I have reached my one year mark with only six months left.  I compiled a list of lessons learned as I reviewed my mission journey so far.
1.        Put your own needs on the back-burner.
2.       Wear the name of the Lord on your tag and on your heart. 
3.        It may be your call, but it is His mission.
4.     The Lord needs us to be master teachers. Salvation is a stake.
5.    Love the rain. Love the heat.
6.    No one needs perfection. They just need our best.
7.    Love your companion.  Someday you will have one for time and all eternity.
8.    You need to know what your weaknesses are before you can grow.
9.    The bigger the sacrifice, the better the blessing. 
10.   Missions make you grow fast.
11.   Change yourself; don't wait for your circumstances to change you.
12.  Whatever you do, don't give up and don't go home.
13.  Fair does not exist.
14.  Sometimes the Lord needs you to make a sacrifice so that you can answer someone else's  prayer.
15.    Just because you have a nametag it does not mean you know very much.
16.    Always know your purpose. If you don’t know it, find it.
17.    Filipinos will die without rice.
18.    Don’t worry about your looks.
19.    Offended people are much nicer when drunk. The wives of mission presidents love to talk about crushes.
20.    Don’t let anything stop you, not even a flood.
21.    Repentance works if we are willing to work to change ourselves.
22.    You cannot deny a testimony.
23.    Be bold.
24.    Brown babies are afraid of white missionaries. 
25.    Thinking fast and finding the best solution under pressure are arts worth mastering.
26.    We have a choice to make our mistakes into growing opportunities.
27.    The Spirit is the real teacher.
28.    Make plans and then execute them.
29.    Valentine’s Day is no fun as a missionary.
30.    Do not get disappointed or distracted.
31.    Good examples are priceless.
32.    Friends are the best thing in the world.
33.    All the jungle people know each other.  Also, they all have the same face.
34.    The cup song makes missionary work way more fun.
35.    Filipinos exaggerate everything, like I am eligible for Biggest Loser.
36.    It is hard to be rebuffed, but when a Filipino tells you in English that they do not want to listen to you, it hurts a thousand times more. 
37.    Some people will decide to not endure through trials and hardships.
38.    Just love the people you serve.
39.    Serve so that you love the people.
40.    Be worthy.
41.    A mission is not a box to check or something to just put on a resume.
42.    Take time to truly convert the children of God.
43.    Be the best…everyday.
44.    Find ways to always remain motivated. 
45.    Love everyone, even if they eat dog.
46.    Make more sacrifices. 
47.    When you think you are making sacrifices, make more.
48.    Love what you do.
49.    Sometimes you need to cry it out.
50.    People make many promises; too many people break their promises.
51.    Stay away from large Australian men; they like to hug and kiss innocent missionaries.
52.    Time flies if and only if you are serving the Lord.

I am not done yet and I have a lot of growth ahead of me.  It is amazing to think how far I have already come.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Let's have a parade!

There are many summer festivals in Aparri and this week many people here participated in a boat parade on the ocean.  A family of members and investigators invited me to be on their boat and they insisted that they would automatically win having the only boat with an American.  Too bad that missionaries are busy and cannot participate in boat parades.  The worst thing about it is that they lost the contest.
This week was AwEsOmE because I skyped with my PaMiLyA and they are MaSaYa.  Mother's Day must be great when you are a mother but it is a thousand times better when you are a missionary.  

I want to send a belated shout out to my mom.  She is the best sa buong mundo.  Sana magiging ako katulad nya sa susunod. (Have fun translating that one, Mom) I feel blessed for the mother I have and my experiences I have had so far on my mission.  I am taking the steps I need to take and preparing for motherhood.

This is a cool story I want to share.

Once upon a time a daughter complained to her mother that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed. Her mother, a chef, took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.

Once the three pots began to boil, she placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot and hot chocolate) in the third pot. She then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to her daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what she was doing. After twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. She then ladled the hot chocolate out and placed it in a cup.

Turning to her, she asked. “Daughter, what do you see?” “Potatoes, eggs and hot chocolate,” she hastily replied.
“Look closer”, she said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.  She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.  Finally, she asked her to sip the hot chocolate. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.  “Mother, what does this mean?” she asked.

She then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and hot chocolate had each faced the same adversity-the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak. The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hardened. However, the hot chocolate was unique. After it was exposed to the boiling water, it changed the water and created something new.

“Which one are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or hot chocolate?” 

Stay sweet like hot chocolate!  XOXO from the Philippines!
Pictures next week po.

Alcohol stings.

-We found an awesome family.
Their name is the Penon family and they are ready for the gospel.  This family needed friends and needed help.  When we first taught the Penon family, we quickly learned about their hardships and trials.  As their mother has been unrightfully imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, the father and children have been trying to make it by.  On our second visit, we were shocked when Brother Penon had prepared a very humble meal for us.  It is hard to eat a meal with a family who can barely afford to feed themselves, but Brother Penon would not let us leave without eating.  Later in the week, we invited the family to a baptism being held at the church.  At the end of the service, Brother Penon told us that the baptism "was close to his heart" and that he wishes the same for himself and his entire family.  We are praying and fasting that Sister Penon will soon be released from prison so that their entire family can be cleansed from their sins and begin the journey to become a forever family.

-We gave a couple hope.
This week we taught Jared and Joanne about repentance. Even though Jared was awaiting his mission call, they made a mistake and have a baby on the way.  It is easy to see their guilt and disappointment, but as we challenged them to repent and come unto the Lord, we could see a small part of the weight on their backs being removed.  Repentance is a process and it can be painful.  But, like alcohol, it is going to sting before it cleanses. The Lord is ready to take the load of guilt that we cannot handle, but we must first reach out to Him.  Jared and Joanne are starting a family under adverse circumstances, but the Lord is there for them each step of the journey.  Things will be okay and they will receive many blessings through their their faith.

-We fixed some false beliefs.
This week we taught the Alcarion family about the Plan of Salvation.  As we taught about the Fall of Adam and Eve, we made it clear that we are not punished for the transgression of Adam and Eve. Although we sin, we will never be punished for another's sins.  Sister Alcarion and her family were surprised.  They had always thought that man had been cursed by the actions of our first parents. They are beginning to better understand their identity as children of a loving Heavenly Father as they learn about His plan for them.

-We were offended...for a second.
When we were teaching Alden about the Book of Mormon, he seemed very open and very interested.  Like in all lessons, we closed by asking him to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true.  He said, "No."  Sister Bagonbon and I looked at each other, made a confused face, and looked back at Alden. I just said, "Why?"  I was annoyed because I knew that he needed to pray about it to receive a testimony.  I was about to go into a long explanation of prayer and God and the Holy Ghost, but before I got the chance, he said, "Because I already know it is true."  It was the best answer he could have given us.

I was just informed that a good missionary friend of mine here in Laoag lost her mother.  My love and prayers go out to her.  Missions are hard and full of unexpected trials.  No one wants them and no one asks for them, but they do come.  I do know that the Lord always blesses His servants in ways we do not at first understand.

Mahal ko kayo.  Ingat lagi.

Aparri Aparri Aparri Aparri.

I have never been so not in my life, but the new area is really great.  I am enjoying my new area and there is a lot of work to be done.  I soon found out that although my area has seen a little bit of progress over the last months, it is not where it should be.  I am here to work hard, be obedient, and do my best. Sister Bagonbon is a ton of fun to work with.  She is from Mindanao and is Visayas speaking, but her Ilocano is amazing.  She also plays piano and shares many interests with me- it's literally a match made in heaven.
Some fun facts about the new area:
-There are about 1 million children.  We have a secret handshake. I am often seen holding hands walking down the street.  Filipino children love giant and white Americans.
-Everyone keeps telling me I am an "angel sent from heaven" because I am so white.  I feel like I am in my first area all over again.
-It smells like fish everywhere because that is the only real profession here. 

I am glad that I believe in miracles. I am putting my faith in the Lord and working my hardest.  I will see miracles.  I know it.  
Learn more about the gospel spreading in Asia:
Love you all!

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