Monday, January 27, 2014

Big News, Big Everything - The Last E-mail From Laoag

Sister Wood and Sister Fuchs in their new skirts. A member of the ward in Laoag made them. I think they are darling! What a treasure for Courtnee to always have and remember her time in Laoag.  
Their investigator that came to church Sunday. This was Courtnee's last Sunday in Laoag.
Doing my laundry

Welcome Welcome, Monday Morning! Now we rest from every care. JOKES.
This week has been great. And the weather has been even greater. Lets just say that I have to boil water in the morning for my showers because it is so chilly. :) That's about all I will say reguarding the weather. :) 
I have 1 set of bad news to share. This last week I misplaced cell phone #2. So my last week in the area was great without one! I know, I am ridiculous and what not, but I will explain later why it was probably meant to happen hahaha. :)
So many little things happened this week so I will just start in the order that they happened!
Tuesday, we went to the beach. Well, our area has a beach, so we walked to the very end of our area, and taught the people who live on the beach! I had never seen it before, and I told sister Fuchs we had to go out there and at least see it before I leave. So we did. The lady we taught didn't understand tagalog, but we found a good potential investigator! So it wasn't a waste of time. :) 
It was kind of weird because it was the last week I will see a lot of these people. We went and said a little goodbye to a couple that we have taught before, who aren't really intersted, but they are so incredibly nice. A filipino lady and a dutch man. She I guess has gotten super attached to me, and was legit so sad that I wasn't coming back. She kept asking me when I would return and I told her probably not until I am married and come back with my parents! Well that lead into a whole other discussion when she began asking who i am going to marry and when my "goal date" for marriage was hahaha. I couldn't help but laugh. Bless her heart. She is so sweet! She just kept saying that I have a special place in her heart and that she will be permanently residing there so we have to come back! Yeah mom and dad we will be returning there!
Haha this week we have had dinner appointments every single night. No joke, we didn't miss a night. But it was for all of the missionaries in our ward. We made a little observation over the week that was quite consistant! We do not believe in segregation, but at every dinner appointment us 4 americans were in a corner, and then all the filipinos on the other side of the room. It was quite comical to watch. we would even go sit amongst them, and they would end up moving! Haha all I can do is laugh. 
I have a good story to tell and am only telling it because I am leaving the area, so my mother doesn't need to get scared. Haha we were studying and these 2 creepy guys pull up in a tricy in front of our apartment. They looked scary. I kept my eye on them the whole time. Finally one of them walks away and so I just go back to what I am doing. All of a sudden we hear filipinos yelling and shouting. The door was shut and locked, so we opened it and they were saying call the police! Come to find out, those guys were going and basically jumping one of our neighbors. And he had a gun haha. They left right after I guess, and that was that. The copped showed up in a tricycle to take care of it haha.
The big fiesta went on in La paz this week. It was so sweet! But so many people out, and no one to teach. We got our nephews some souveneirs though. :) They will love them and look just like a little filipino boy! We happened to run into some members from baguio who had with them and Returned missionary who was back there visiting from texas. Haha nothing can get more random than that especially in La paz. THere were a lot of drunk people there and one guy asked me if i would be his girlfrie, he was so drunk he couldnt even say girlfriend haha. It was hilarious. The rides they had there definitely not for americans. i am pretty sure i could have snapped the poles the ferris wheel was made of with my hands hahaha.  I am going to miss that place. 
The Fiesta in La Paz
Yesterday walking home we were about to cross the street and i walked a little bit into the road to start crossing and i hear sister fuchs saying sister wood. sister wood. in just a quiet normal voice. i loook over and i am about to be hit by a horse and carriage! Oh my lanta. Of course I got out of the way, but I mean come on kasama, look out for me a little bit more hahaha!
Yesterday at church we had 6 investigators there. Which is a good amount! We for sure thought we would have so many more though because we have been teaching some quality lessons with quality people. As a missionary I think church is the hardest thing! Because you expect so many people, and hardly any come. THe Javier family came, but it was only for the last little tiny bit. We are worried that they are only doing all of it for the missionaries and not for the gospel. But they say they know it is true, so it is confusing. We have 11 baptismal dates right now and most of them are couples, so it is perfect. :) With some of the little things that have gone on in our area, we understand why they have happened because now we see that they have been being prepared for other people..... which leads me into the big news of the day!
I AM BEING TRANSFERRED! To Aparri, Cagayan!! WOOHOO! It is about 6-8 hours away from here, and it is next to the ocean! My companion will be a filipino names sister bacalla who is a quite a ways into her mission! I AM SO EXCITED! They are taking out a companionship from our ward permanently. So there will be a set of elders and sisters. Sister Fuchs is transferring to Laoag 2a hahaha so she will be in the same ward, just different area. I think she is kind of bummed out about it because she will see people, but not get to teach them. Kinda weird situation, but all of our transfers are inspired, so we know that it is meant to be that way! My zone leader will be elder castillo who has also been my district leader the whole time I have  been here! Haha I am so excited. It is goinhg to be like a whole new world over there. No big stores, just small little city! I am ready. I can do it! haha. I think I will be living with Sister Richards who played high school soccer with me. Who would have thought! Haha. Anyways, its crazy! I won't be in Laoag anymore. I am leaving my little anak sister fuchsy! I am so grateful for all of the people that I have met and learned so much from. 
Next time I will email will be in Aparri!
Kita Kits!
- Sister Wood
P.s. the little kids counted how many moles i had and they guess probably about 80+.
These are the kids that sat and counted Courtnee's moles. hahaha!!
This is sister feli. she is a crack up.all i wanted was to wear her glasses in the photo. wasn't happening. oh and this is where we take our clothes to get washed. 
So we taught this less active about the word of wisdom on Sunday. afterwards, she asks us if we want a snack. we say sure.she walks outside to the road and goes and buys us a bottle of mountain dew, and corn, and dessert. hahaha. we looked at each other like whoops, well thats not good. its not the sabbath or anything hahaha! 
Cut her foot on another tricey.
The little creeper that is sitting on my shoulder while I am writing to you. hahaha
Hands - I love this picture
The Bird Man - Loved the picture I gave him of my Dad hunting
Goosebumps - Yes I've been freezing this week.

My best friend here in Laoag. We are so much alike.

Monday, January 20, 2014

"It Is Tall"

Sister Wood and Joylyn. Courtnee loves her

Filipinos are great. The way they talk, what they say, its hilarious! Except..... for some reason they get the word "it" and "you or she" mixed up. I don't really know why because they are obviously different, but this week multiple times I heard people say "It is tall!" About me of course. Haha I just laughed and walked up to them and said, "yes, I am tall!" Haha then they all giggle and laugh and run away. This week has been the bomb!!  Except right now here in Philippines, many many many people are dying for some reason! Actually the two reasons are, it is really "cold" and some say they just had to make it past the holidays. The traditions here are really different and they have a big marching band in front of the line of cars/people, so we hear them multiple times a day going by our house. There is a long time less active member who also passed away this month, and they have their viewings at their house. Well I thought they only are there for like a day like at home, but his casket has just been sitting at his house for people to see since the first week of january and since there are a lot of people dying they can't go to the cemetery til the 28th. So he is just at his house for everyone to see! We have actually taught 2 lessons right next to him in their house! Because the others aren't members! At least he is in a better place. :) I am grateful for the plan of salvation!
So I sent the Photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger's supposed property here in Laoag. I don't think there is anything that can get more random than that. I of course questioned it, but this less active lady that lives next door to it is going to court or something against it or something like that. I don't know. The only thing I know is that ARnold has a tiny piece of property in laoag city in our area. 
Arnold's piece of land in Laoag!! Random
Haha I have told you about the family that is here from West Jordan... it is the brother of our bishop! They are the cutest family. The girls wear matching clothes, all that good stuff. Well they have been coming to our ward until they can go back to the U.S. and his wife taught our relief society on sunday. Hahaha we loved it so much because we felt like we were back at home! She brought in her mac book to show a video and even had handouts at the end. (picture). Haha this was like the weirdest thing to us and i am sure for all the 4 sisters there! haha. We also got to speak in sacrament as well! My last time in this ward. I spoke on putting on the armor of god. isuot ang baluti ng diyos! All 6 of us missionaries spoke, so i think everyone was sick of listening by the end. Don't ask why all of us did, it was just what they wanted!
So for the new standard card this year, the first one is 2 new investigator families per month. Here it is really challenging to get a whole family. Even a husband and a wife. Well we have been working really hard this week to find them, and we have had some success! We are currently teaching about 3-4 families/husband and wifes. Teaching is so much better when it is the both of them! There are 3 families in La Paz and 4 of them have baptismal dates, and then 2 more in Lubbot! The work is hastening! And the Lord wants families to have the gospel! Not just individuals! We had an FHE at the Javier's this week and it was a blast. We did a little spiritual thought and then sang primary songs like popcorn popping and the snowman song. Haha I kid you not everyone LOVED them. The adults too! They were laughing so hard and loved every second. The elders came with us for it so it was just a big party! There were a ton of people there. Investigators/less active! They made us a nice meal and then taught us how to make a filipino dessert. It was such a great night. Everyone was so incredibly happy! There is just something about being together as a family and having a good time. We invited this less active family who lives up there who rarely go to church. They LOVED it. and, were at church the next day. There is so much power in the family. I can't wait to have family home evening with my family some day! I know that families are ordained of God.I know that Satan has an attack on the families, but I know that we will win the battle if we are doing everything we can to strengthen them and have christ be the center of our homes. :) Brother John Eric should be getting baptized in the next few weeks. That's a tough one because I am not sure if he is just doing this because he has a crush on me, or if he truly wants the gospel. Even though we establish expectations and stuff. We will just let it be in the Lord's hands. :) haha. 
I love all of the people I teach. It is going to be pretty hard leaving laoag, in the highly likelyhood of me leaving haha. I have grown to love every person. We find out about transfers on friday or saturday. I have absolutely no idea where i will be transferred! No hints from pres or anything. Besides he told me that he will transfer me somehwere where i will have to walk 10 km a day. i will welcome that with open arms. :) Next week I will let you know if i am going to the european town of vigan or out in the middle of nowhere of cagayan, or somehwere in between. :) 
Sister Wood
P.s. So the bird man. We visited them this week and he gave us a bunch of mangos and then goes to me and says sister can i have the picture of your dad hunting for a rememberance? Hahaha so there ya go dad. You have a fan. I will gladly give him a picture of you holding birds. :) 
McDonalds delivery!!

Straight Blood - Yes they eat this

Kids in Laoag

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Solid Week

Sister Wood and her companion designed these t-shirts for their district. She was pretty proud of how they turned out

Sister Wood playing basketball with her district. She gets frustrated because the Sisters can only guard sisters. She's toooo competitive. hahaha.

Hello all. :)
This week has been pretty solid. I have loved every second of it and am so grateful for all of the little miracles that Heavenly Father has put in our path. I started a Miracle Journal and I love updating it every night and reflecting on even the smallest little miracles that happened!
So the photo at the fabric shop. So hilarious. I couldn't believe it when I walked in. Well you know we are having one of the Less-active ladies we teach make us a couple of skirts, so we got to go pick out the fabric. It was so crazy inside of that store, as you can see. Haha it was so chaotic, and that is why I loved it so much. :) It will be exciting to see the product at the end of the week! If they are cute, AWESOME. If not, that's okay. It will be a fun thing to remember. :) 
 this is a fabric shop in the philippines. there is no organization whatsoever. no board for cutting, they just eye ball it. fabric on the floor you just walk on. this is their best seller fabric. dollar signs. the guy said they like to make sheets out of this on their bed so that people can feel like they are sleeping in money. i bought fabric for p55 a yard. a dollar and twenty cents hahaha. 
Oh my, I was so excited to tell you about the other day when we were sitting in the jeepney waiting to leave to La Paz. A lady climbs in and is wearing this familiar bright blue shirt thing. She sits down, and I get a better look. She is wearing a blue nike penny just like we wear at practice. Hahaha I just sat and laughed! She had this tiny little shirt under it and then just was wearing it as a fashionable shirt or something! I am telling you, everything gets dumped here in the Philippines!
Last monday on our way home we were riding in the tricycle and sister fuchs was on the back. I was inside the little metal box haha and for some reason the driver drove too close to the gutter. Well the gutters here are like canals. Not like the ones at home! Well, the tricey wheel went inside the canal, so we tilted sideways because the wheel wouldn't come out of course! so i was in the contraption sideways, and I went to climb out and the driver said no its okay i will get it out! So he starts reving the engine like he is going to be able to drive out of it!!! Yeah it was going nowhere. Haha everyone was driving passed laughing, and finally I just got out and he lifted it up out of the canal. Oh man. 
One of our lessons this week was hilarious. We were teaching the family in their family room, and just to the side of it, their dad was passed out drunk. On the floor. It was really strange and awkward, and then I just kept thinking to myself haha I would only experience this here! During the lesson he kept making the gargaling noises and at one point tried sitting himself up, and then he would just fall backward again. He tried a few times, but it wasn't happenin! It was funny to watch, but I feel really bad for his family. 
We got a new schedule for church for the new year! We have 8:00 church now! At home this is a big deal, but as a missionary you have to wake up at 6:30 am no matter what, so no big deal! We got to church at 8:00 and NO ONE WAS there. Okay, 2 people were there, but still. We knew this would happen! Haha after about 30 minutes people started rolling in slowly but surely. But also from ward 1. So we were confused because why were they coming too? Well for some reason they thought it would be a brilliant idea to have ward 2 start at 8:00 am and ward 1 at 8:30 am. Ward 1 has sacrament first, and we don't. But still. The timing of things here is always off so I am sure that we will have some issues with scheduling! haha. 
Our solid week contained 34 miles total of walking! YAY! Haha we walked a ton, but it is always more fun to walk a lot because then you get time to just sit and talk to your companion. We have been on the quest to flood the world with the Book of Mormon, just like everyone should be! This week I have really come to fully understand the power inside of that book. I know that just as Joseph Smith said, that it is the most correct book on earth. This week we met a lady named Sister Sebastian, and she was 85 years old. Her son was a preacher for some other church, but she let us share a message with her. We quickly found out that she could not speak any tagalog and only knew ilocano. And a tiny bit of english. Like a tiny bit. The lesson started and she just kept saying she didn't understand us. I was throwing out any and every bit of ilocano that I knew, but it just wasn't cutting it. Finally I just said get out the ilocano book of mormon, it is all she will understand. We read some of the paragraphs to her in ilocano and then told her that it is for her to read. She lit up and was so happy. She grabbed the book and held it to her chest and said "I love this book!" I don't even know if she knows it is true yet, but I know that the Book of Mormon speaks to people way better than we ever could.
Sister Sebastian
Next, Papa Erman Javier that we have been teaching forever. He is now on page 103 of the Book of Mormon. He loves reading it. He knows it is true. We had bishop give him a blessing the last time we were there teaching because he has bad health issues and can hardly walk, so he can't go to church. The Spirit was so strong. The room was filled. All of his kids could feel it. It was amazing. The book of mormon has changed their life and is the biggest instrument (along with the spirit), in their conversion. :) This week I met someone that I will never forget the rest of my life. Her name is Joylyn Antonio. She is 17 years old. We were up in her neck of the woods finding people to teaching because less active families live up there. We were on the road and a group of kids had been following us everywhere. We had stopped to decide what to do, and she came out of nowhere. This one kid I could tell had been teasing her cause she was trying to chase him. (I will send pics of her next week). I told her not to listen to whatever they were saying. Somehow she asked us if we were mormons. She told us that she had a Book of mormon! I asked her if she could show us and she leaded us to her house. Her mom and sister were there and she went and grabbed it. Her mom was so happy to see us and told us that SIster Joylyn was autistic. Of course that made me fall in even more love with her. She grabs her book of mormon, and we find out that the sister missionaries taught her back in 2011-2012. Taught her and her mother. They went to church every week! But for some reason, one day, the missionaries never went back to their house. At this point, Sister Joylyn couldn't get the smile off of her face. We got to know her a little bit and she showed us pictures of the missionaries and all of the things that they wrote to her. She never was baptized of course, and I asked her if she wanted to be baptized. She said yes! I don't know why the missionaries just never went back to this special daughter of our heavenly father, but i know that i was supposed to meet her. It kills me to know that there is a chance that I won't be able to be there to see her baptized. Her mother told us that in her free time when she has nothing to do, she just picks up the book of mormon and tries her best to read it! There is SO MUCH power in that book. I have a very strong testimony of it. I am not a book of mormon scholar,and I don't know it from front to back, but I know that it is true, and I know that I can feel the spirit when I read it. I have a goal of reading the standard works before I go home. So reading the bible, and the book of mormon and doctrine and covenants again, and the pearl of great price. I know that these are the words of god. We get closer to him by reading them. As we CPR every day/week, we won't fall away. We will continue on our path of enduring to the end. :) I am so grateful for God's plan for us, and his love he has for us. I am grateful that he has given us the scriptures as evidence of the gospel and his plan. My testimony is growing every day and I want you all to know that this church is so true! Even when two wards are scheduled to have church at the same time! Haha it is still true! God loves all of us. Ay-ayaten na tayo ni Apo Dios. Have an amazing week. :) 
Love, Sister Wood

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Years!!


New Years Eve - Eating Lechon (big giant cooked pig)
New Years Eve - Sister Wood and Sister Fuchs
My mind is completely blank as I am typing right now, I guess I left all of my thoughts in 2013. Haha that was a dumb joke. ANYWHO, on New Years eve we got to have a big old lunch at President Daquiog's house with both of the zone in Laoag. It was sweet. We ate Lechon. The big giant cooked pig thing. It was tasty tasty! It was fun to be with all of the other missionaries and President! I guess it is a tradition that they do every year. So that night we went to bed at 10:30 pm and then woke back up at 12:00. I mean not even on purpose though. It sounded like an absolute battle field I kid you not. There were sky fireworks, but most of them were just firecracker and bottle rockets. And just tons and tons of rounds of them! All of us were up outside on our deck. There was no way we were sleeping through it! My very favorite part of it was the tons of floating lanterns that people let off in the sky. I am doing that when I get home even if it kills me! On New Years day we had exchanges, so we got to start the new year with a new companion! I got to work with SIster Diamond from Ogden, Utah. It was fun working with another Utah girl. :)
The next day we had district meeting and it was actually pretty fun! We did a speed teaching game, and we had to share 3 scriptures, give the background and apply it all in 2 minutes. It was competitive so of course i loved it. I got it good with 8 seconds left, but then elder castillo did it, and dropped a baptismal date with 20 seconds. So he beat me. Darn it.
We got to do a service project on saturday with our ward and we went and cleaned up the elementary school before all of the kids went back to school. It was pretty sweet because it was fun to see how school is here and the way the classrooms look.
We had MCM on Saturday and we ate Chicken neck. I couldn't do it. I honestly couldn't! I will try and explain it. First off all around it was so fatty. So fatty. Then when you got to the "bone" part.... okay so you know your throat how it is that lumpy kind of hard feeling? Okay well just imagine biting in to that. I couldn't do it because i felt like i was biting into my own neck. So that was
gross, and probably will never do it again.
We don't have any investigators on track for a baptismal date still. It's hard and frustrating, but we are doing what we can to help them! The Javier Family is doing everything besides church. And that is about every other week. You can't even believe how much I love these people in this area. Lets just say it is going to be pretty tough when transfers come around. If you are wondering about my companion, she is doing great. She loves me again after having to wake up early to play basketball. :) Nah we get along really well. So different, yet so alike.
I am so sorry everyone, this email is probably the worst yet. Definitely not how I wanted to start the new year........ haha just know that I love  being a missionary. I love the Philippines, I love Tagalog, I know that this church is true, I love seeing it bless people's lives, I love Jesus, I love our Heavenly Father, and I love His work!
Sister Wood
Teaching the kids

Sister Wood fell in love with these little boys. The one on the right has on an AYSO soccer jersey that is exactly like the one Courtnee had her very first year of soccer (age 5). Her team was the blueberries.