Whew, this week went by fast and it has been both hard and rewarding all at once. We had two days where our trainers left us the whole day to go to meetings and stuff because they are both STLs. So that was an adventure. Especially Thursday because it was just Sis Pilimai and I and we were trying our very best but we both have pretty broken Tagalog still. There are so many stories I could tell and so many people I could mention here it’s so hard to pick which of them to talk about right now, especially as time is running short this week.
I will tell you about a sister I met for the first time on Saturday. She is a less active that we had been by to see before but she was not home so we did not get to teach her. Her name is Sister Lani. She is an example of amazingly strong faith here in the Philippines. We were sharing with her how the Comforter can speak to us in a still, small voice and can help us if we prepare our hearts to be able to listen. She started opening up to us her trials and her hardships, and though I couldn’t understand everything she was saying, I could tell she was telling about something she really had a lot of conviction in. She told us about how she is often hungry, there’s no food to eat, and she just starts to read the Book of Mormon and when she does she begins to feel full. I felt so much compassion for her and her family because she is working so hard to provide for her and her children. Her husband has not had work for a long time but hopefully when the rainy season starts he can work in the rice fields. She also told us about how every time she is on the bus going to work she shares what she knows with the people next to her. Right now she is not going to Church because she feels embarassed that in the last year she has lost so much weight. She still knows the truth though and she tries to testify as much as she can. Her faith is so strong. There are so many people like this here, willing to share with us the difficulties in their lives, ready to be open, and having such strong faith that the Lord is blessing them every step of the way.
Another less active we visited on Valentines is Nanay Aida. She is someone we have been visiting consistently for the entire time that I have been assigned here. We probably see her about 2 or 3 times a week. Since the first time we met her, I have felt really comfortable with her. She reminds me a lot of one of my great aunts back home and she even sorta looks like she could be one of their sisters. So we stopped by the other night to share with her about faith. We shared a verse from the Book of Mormon and then we listened to her talk about the struggles she has been having. Last week she was telling us that every time that she looks at her grandson she loses a little hope and faith. He has an incurable skin condition where he has moles all over his body that look like little sagots. They think it is from an expired vaccine. Her husband also died this last year and her son too. She told us about how her husband died in her arms. She explained that without the Gospel she would not be able to endure all these trials. She really has endured so much and been so strong for so long. Every day she prays for a miracle for her grandson. I have thought about her again and again ever since she said she is losing hope lately. As we were talking about faith, I felt it important to tell her that I already see a miracle in her grandson. He is happy, alive and healthy otherwise. Many would not have survived similar medical accidents. I told her that none of her efforts of faith are wasted, that Heavenly Father hears her every prayer. He watches as she rocks her grandson to sleep each night telling him he will be healed because of all the love of everyone in his family. She told us she would not be able to endure these great trials without the Gospel. At first when the missionaries knocked, her husband would not let them in. But they were persistent they came back and eventually begin teaching her family. She truly believes everything the Church teaches. She knows God trusts her to handle the burdens placed upon her. Her eyes told me the story of her sorrow as she spoke in a way her words could not. As I looked into them, I wanted to weep for her, at the weight she has been forced to bear. Nothing I could say would take back that pain. All I can do is continue to let her know of how Heavenly Father loves her. When we went to leave, she clasped us tightly, hugging us and kissing us and calling me her “anak” or child…then of course she offered to feed us as that is the ultimate love language of Filipinos.
I am so grateful for these experiences and am also grateful several of my prayers have been answered this week. We found two new people to teach yesterday, one who had a baptismal date before she moved to Saudi Arabia. I really am working hard, and though there are nights that tears stream down my cheeks as I pray harder than I ever have in my life, I am ever grateful for the experiences I am having. And I am ever grateful for the gifts I have that help me to know these people better and deeper. I love each of you. I pray for you and think of you.