Friday, March 28, 2014

Seek and ye shall find.... LICE.

Jocelyn's Baptism
 
Baptism Day
 



Yep, it happened. I actually feel really lucky to be 9 months into my mission and telling you all for the first time that I have lice! I am working on getting it out right now. They have this shampoo called lice-a-lis haha that I used and will use again tonight and hopefully that will do the trick. So one of the little girls that is getting baptized this weekend was playing with my hair. I just randomly asked her to check if I had lice. Only because I like the way it feel when they are digging through your hair. :) Haha. She just kept saying ahhh so many sister! Then showed me the bigger lice that they call cuto here. So there are the lice eggs that stick to your hair. Then there are the actual bugs that lay the eggs. I guess they are worse. And she found five or six haha. I was dying. Couldn't believe I actually had lice. I mean it was bound to happen though. With all of the little kids that cling on me and touch me haha. Don't worry I went home that night and washed  my sheets and blankets and all that. All the people in the ward were laughing at me for having "cuto" because I guess it is pretty gross haha. Yay for me!
I feel like I haven't been able to update you on how all the missionary work is going here. So here we gooooooooo!
The baptism this weekend was excellent. Jocelyn was so stinking happy. She shared the greatest little testimony and just kept thanking us for teaching her. Even though I know that it is the Spirit that converts these people, it felt good to know that she appreciated our time and effort in teaching her. We had it combined wit Branch 1, and right before it started all the power went out. It's okay though, wasn't going to stop anything! I love watching people be baptized. Sister Jocelyn was emotional before she went down into the font. I am so glad that she felt the Spirit with her at that time!
So right after the baptism, we had to stay at the church for the interviews of the 5 Santiago children. Oh boy. Their mom ended up coming with them, but once they finally got through their shyness, all was well. We were there for a good 4 hours. I went outside and sat and watched basketball with the 3 little girls while we waited and that is what this picture is of. They were doing my hair. Good news though, they all passed! So they will be getting baptized on the 29th. I am so impressed with their testimony and faith. We met them the beginning of this month and they are getting baptized the end of the same month. They come from very humble living. The picture included with the candle is of a lesson we had. At night time, or sometimes anytime, they have no electricity. So we have to teach in just candle light. I remembered my bright head light dad sent me, so that has helped in a few lessons too! One of the younger ones, Edriana got bit by a rat in the middle of the night, so her finger was all bleeding and cut. But there is nothing they can do about it. Because there is no money for medicine. Whenever I can I try and give them some of my stuff, but I am almost out of neosporin type stuff! I just love those kids. Even though they are young, they are just so much happier at church and when we are teaching them. Next week I will tell you about my favorite one though haha. His name is Jayson and he is 8 years old! I am looking forward to their baptism this weekend. :) All we need to do is get their parents to church, and it will be one big happy family.
We are preparing for another baptism on April 5th. Ismael Nanay will hopefully be getting baptized. He is like 22 or 23. He was a previous investigator and had even passed the interview! I think he is ready now though for baptism. He has an interview with President Barrientos on Thursday after our zone conference so we will see if he really is prepared. Also, he needs to quit the little bit of coffee he likes drinking. I gave him one of the Book of Mormon Story books. It has helped him out a lot. He loves reading! I will let you know what all goes down with that! 
Our area has been doing so well. The Lord is blessing us so much. Yesterday we had 10 investigators at church. It was amazing. But with many people at church makes our job even harder. We run around for 3 hours making sure people are where they need to be and taken care of! And in sacrament meeting I sat next to Mitch May, her friend and her cousin. Okay they are 8-9 years old. The boys who sat in front of us were teenagers. They are not members but their parents are. Well throughout all of sacrament they were basically fighting with each other, but I don't even realize because they are speaking in ilocano. One of the teenage boys was saying he was going to fight the little girls mom, and then Mitch May told me that they were saying masama salita (bad words).  So you can imagine me. haha. I lean over and ask them how old they are. You know that expression in english? Like okay how old are you boys? Yeah doesn't work in tagalog. They just told me their age haha. So i just told them to grow up in english. Its a good chance they didn't understand it, but they could tell I wasn't happy. I made the girls go sit in the front. Gosh, hopefully they all come back next week. 
Well, that's about all that is happening right now in Aparri, Cagayan! We have zone conference this week. So that will be exciting. Getting to see some peeps! Oh my gosh I forgot to mention that I got all the letters from my team! BAHHH I love you all so much. They made me so happy. I will try and reply to all of them! I miss the game so much! Kicking the ball against the wall every morning just isn't cutting it for me. Well, I love you all! I think all of my emotions have calmed down for the time being, so I am normal again haha. Thank you everyone for your kindness and support to me. I am so grateful. Love you all.
Ofa Atu!
- Sister Wood
xoxox
Grilling Fish on some sort of homemade contraption

Sleepy Missionary - This picture actually made me miss Courtnee so much. Anyone that knows her knows that she sleeps with her mouth open. "Catching Flies" as her Dad calls it.


Decorating for a wedding - Made me laugh.
 
District Leader for a day

Reading by candlelight
 
 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Courtnee's Last Letter to Miller: My Dearest Favorite Miller Toa

Rest in Love Elder Toa




My Dearest Favorite, Miller Toa:
Hey Love! It's another day in the mission field! I will still write to you as if I am talking to you face to face because I think you are even closer to me now! I can feel it. How are you? I am doing well. As my final letter to you, and to whoever else reads this, I want you to know that YOU DID IT! You conquered this life! You were to good for it! You were sent here for a time, fulfilled your purpose, so of course Heavenly Father would want you back with him! This morning we walked to our furthest area. Haha I wouldn't let my companion take a tricycle. It ended up being 4 miles. It rocked! We only taught 1 lesson, but what we spent our time doing made me think of you! Here in Aparri they are drying huge amounts of shrimp. We saw one of our investigators working and decided to step in and help. Man it was hard! My fingers even started bleeding! But I could feel their sincere gratitude for our help. It felt so good doing THEIR work. The work the people are dong here!  There was an instant connection with the people. An instant love. I thought to myself, this is how YOU, Elder Toa, did it!  As your best friend I want to share with you the greatest lesson I have learned from you. It is the principle of service. And we all know that when we are in the service of our fellow beings, ye are only in the service of our God! You served God your whole life! So it is only fitting that God would take you back to live with him while you were an ordained and set apart servant of Him! Thank you for sharing the way you served people with me. I will cherish your stories for the rest of my life. Let me remind you of a letter you wrote to me December 18th:


"Haha honestly? I can't give you any advice on missinoary work because I stink! Wanna know what I have noticed though? The more I become one with the people, the more I get closer to them, the less I find myself teaching with my mouth! The closer I become, the more time I spend in the swamp getting firewood! The more time I spend in the mountains with a machete gathering food. Or playing "rumi" with the old less actives, or gatherin tin cans off the ground so kids can go buy rice for their families! The closer I get to these people, the less I tell them about the Gospel... Is that bad? Am I a bad missionary for doing that? For not doing actual textbook missionary work?"

My Miller. You were the best of the best. You were and are the greatest missionary even if you don't sit down and explain the whole restoration. Even though I know you told me plenty of times that you have have gotten pretty dang good at teaching it! Haha. I know that you brought so many people into the Gospel in Chuuk by your Christlike example, and you constant Christlike service. You did become one with the people, and it will forever change their lives. Along with theirs, you have changed my life, and the life of everyone around you. Nothing was ever about yourself. You are so selfless! Your time was spent making others happy. And that is how you found your joy. You always told me, "If you're happy, I am happy." 
Miller there is a quote I want to share with you by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. He said, " The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit, millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Babe has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise human orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others, but warm them as well." Thank you for willingly leading and warming everyone you come in contact with. But specifically me. I wish you could see my face every time I open a letter from you. Your smile and your laugh are contagious! Your testimony of this Gospel radiates from you! Your testimony strengthens my testimony. I think God knows how much you and I want to see each other again. Good thing he loves us enough to create a plan that will for sure include that! It will be a glorious day. You better be there to welcome me in with open arms! I already miss you more than words can describe, but I know that my time with you is spent, and there are others waiting for you to help them like you did me. You will be with me forever, I just know it. Well Favorite, I need to go. We have a family we need to go and teach. :) You will always be in my heart. I love you!
Sweet Dreams.
Ofa Atu!
Love,
Your very own missionary, Sister Courtnee Wood. <3

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Favorite:



This post is dedicated to Sister Courtnee Wood's dearest and closest friend Elder Miller Toa who passed away this past week while serving in the Micronesia Guam Mission. Miller referred to Courtnee as "My Favorite".  As we read Sister Wood's email last night we were impressed by her faith in a loving Heavenly Father and hope you will feel, as we did, her spirit as you read her words. Miller will be greatly missed by Sister Wood and all those that knew him.
Ofa lahi atu Elder Toa

Elder Miller Edward Toa

True Happiness - Sister Wood loved this picture of Miller


As many of you know, this week has been a flying roller coaster of emotions for me. I found out on Saturday about my Miller. Haha yes, I call him my Miller as if he was really mine. :) I am sorry if this email is all over the place. I hope you can understand where my thoughts are at at this point. President Barrientos came to our apartment on Saturday to check out our apartment, and then pulled me aside and told me the news. Still to this point nothing is real to me. I just haven't been able to process anything that has happened. All I know is that Miller was an elect son of God. I told my mission president that every letter (yeah you bet we wrote each other every single week:)) I got from him helped me be a better missionary. His knowledge of the Gospel, his Immovable testimony, He was truly inspiring. I have never met someone so selfless. I would smile as I read his letters about him being so tired from going up in the mountains everyday or in the swamps to help the people gather fire wood or food, and how many machetes he has gone through because he is doing so much service. He told me recently and apologized for not being a textbook missionary. That he shares the gospel through service, and that is what touches the hearts of the people in Chuuk. He's remarkable. This email I got a while ago really touched me. He has a way with words I am telling ya. I am so lucky to have a Heavenly Father watching over me. But I am extra lucky now, to have Miller up above watching over me as well. 
"Hey favorite! i got a letter from you today!!! :) :) :) loved it!! i love
how short and sweet your letters are to me! :) they are definitely a
need to me :) :) ha the work is going good! i hope that you are
finding as much joy as i am in the work!! :) :) because it really is a
joyous work to be performing :) too bad this isn't handwritten because
we both know that letters are more intimate and rewarding to receive
:) :) but oh well :) i hope that this email will bring a smile to your
face :) haha its way funny to read your adventures in the philippines
:) i LOVE hearing how you are doing and what you are doing :) haha i
wish i was as spiritual as you ;) there is so much to say and so much
to write but i think that the best way to tell you everything is just
in person! so we definitely will be together when we are both home and
just going to talk and talk and talk for hours and hours and hours!
it'll be fun ya know? :) :) :) haha i hope that you are finding the
joy and happiness you deserve in your new area! sounds pretty rough!
but i know that you are capable of finding the success the Lord has
set for you to find :) and i know that the Lord also knows that you
are going to work miracles out there or else he would not have called
you there :) ahha isn't it such a comfort to know that there is a
person, who knows each and every one of us and is there to help and
protect us!? :) to comfort and support us! :) :) haha isn't that just
the greatest comfort to the heart? :) :) haha because it is to mine :)
there is a certain glory that comes from the service of missionaries..
haha and that glory has found its way to you and is for you only :) :)
as you find this glory you will perform as an instrument in God's
hands! :) :) :) haha and like wise as an all knowing master of
perfection, He will surely take the best care of His instruments! :)
:) just like He is and will take care of you :) :)i'm sorry if i am
just rambling on about nonsense :) haha but i hope that you are doing
well! please know that i am praying and hoping for the best in all
things for you :) :) :) have fun out there doing the work and find the
joy which can and will fill your heart and soul with pure happiness :)
:) :) know that i think of you often! :) and love you even more :) :)
:)" 
I know that Miller will be with me for the rest of my life. Even though he won't be able to be here on earth to approve of the man I will end up marrying, or my kids won't be able to dominate his kids in sports in this life, the chance will come. :) Sister Barrientos was also there when I found out, and I loved what she told me. She said Sister Wood he is going to visit you in your dreams, you don't need to worry. This was so fitting because if anyone knows, Miller would tell me "sweet dreams" whenever we were talking, whether It was morning afternoon, or night time! :) I pray for it every day. That I will get a visit from him in my dreams. 
I really could go on and on and on about this boy forever, but there is no reason to! All of us know the type of kid he was based off his example and interactions with everyone. Oh, one more thing. The day I heard was the day I found the first white piece of hair on my head. But it couldn't have been any more perfect! Miller always said that if you had white hair that mean you were really wise. :) Now me and him are just the same! (but really inside I am freaking out because I am 20 years old and found a white hair haha.) More than anything I know that Miller would want me to just get to work. To quit my crying, smile, and enjoy my calling as a missionary. So I will update you on the work this week!
We had 8 investigators at church again this week. What a miracle. Which means that we have a fore sure baptism of Jocelyn Gototos next weekend, and then most likely the baptism of 5 children (all family) on the 29th! How exciting. Next week I will more fully fill you in on the details. 
I finished my 2nd journal of the mission! Yay. Got to start a new one yesterday. Talk about perfect timing. I love my journal. And now, whenever I start a new day instead of dear diary or journal or whatever, I write Dear Favorite: And I will do that the rest of forever. :) 
I know that Miller left the world as a "good soldier of Jesus Christ." I will forever thank Heavenly Father for having the chance to be so close to him! (Philippians 1:3). 



Everyone, thank you so much for your love and prayers and concern. I am grateful for the knowledge that I will get to see him again. And when I do, I can't wait to get a big amazing hug from him. :)
Love,
Sister Wood
P.S. darn it. Looks like he and I will have to wait for the next life to make our dang floating paper lanterns! :) Love him. 
Courtnee and Miller - Best Friends for Eternity 

Miller's mission farewell

High School BFF's

Mischief!!

Rodeo with the Family

Graduation Night

Graduation June 1012

Layton High Graduates 2012





 

Monday, March 10, 2014

We LIVE!!

I absolutely love this picture. When Courtnee was called to the Philippines this is exactly the image I had in my mind. She will be forever changed because of experiences like this.


Welcome welcome, Monday morning! How goes it everyone? Well first off, our whole aparment is safe and staying here in Aparri for another transfer! Which is good. I wouldn't have minded some change, but its good. This week i bought cookies and cream toothpaste, and it tastes like you are brushing your teeth with icing. So that's cool. Ummm mom I got your package! It was the greatest thing ever. I swear when I get stuff it is always perfect timing. The essential oil things are sweet, but I added them in my water like I said, but I must have not noticed i put more in of the peppermint and when i drank it my lips were burning. But I had to finish it all because that would be a big waste. Other than that it is all the best! Thank you. It always makes me so happy.
The photos of the duck and chicken. Disgusting right? I guess it is called 1 day old or something. You can see why. The Gototos family was plucking all of the feathers off of it so that they could make adobo with it. Just a filipino dish. I was so grossed out. But hey, they say it is delicious. Yeah.. not believing that.
Balut - Nasty!!

Featherless
 
I thought on my mission I would be serving people all of the time. I mean in other forms rather than just teaching them. But here, no one wants you to help them. I am not joking! They all say no! Well there was this Less active lady that we just stopped by. She was really sick and complaining that her husband wasn't helping her clean, but she needed to do it. So we went in and started doing it without gettign her approval. She got so mad!!! I was sweeping the floor and she came and tried to grab the broom from me and I wouldn't let go. And I wasn't going to. She was being so stubborn. She tried to grab the broom from me for a few minutes, but it wasn't going anywhere. Finally she got tired and just sat down and went off about how she was mad now that we wouldn't stop helping her clean. makes no sense haha. Anyways, it taught me that we need to be willing to let people help us in things! Yeah sometimes it is hard, and I would be the first one to say it, but I mean how would we serve others if everyone didn't allow it? haha.
We taught a recent convert this week named Generose. She didn't come to church the last week and we asked her why. She said that we was reviewing for her tests and school. I immediately thought of my brother in law DD. I think he is the most perfect example to all of us reguarding this.I told her about derek and how he is in medical school right now and how he decided he would never study on sundays. I told her all of the blessings that have come to them and his grades because of it. I am so grateful for your example to everyone DD. I know that her and her family were touched by it even through my broken Tagalog. I am so happy that I have a brother in law that has so much faith to know that he will be blessed for something as simple as this! Thought I don't think I have ever verbalized it, it has always stuck with me and I look up to you a lot. You bet she was at church this week! :)
This weekend was district conference. Which is just like stake conference, but for our district of branches instead! It was really great. We went to a saturday night session, (all of the missionaries were invited). And Elder Villanueva from the Seventy spoke. He is a cool guy. Very small man though. haha. Yesterday we had the sunday session of it and we had the greatest turnout of people. There were so many people there! President and Sister Barrientos came up for it and they spoke. They always rock it. The awesome news is that we had 8 investigators there! Awesome right?! It was so great. A lot of them were from the Santiago family we have been teaching. There are 4-5 of them that come to church. Well don't ask why, but I decided that we should sit on the very front row with them. My companion was behind us sitting with someone else. So I was sitting in between a total of 5 young kids. Haha oh my heavens. But don't worry, I came well prepared. I brought all of my valentines candy I got and printed off coloring pages. That's what I mean that my moms packages are always perfect timing! I took all of the markers with me and I had them quiet and reverent for 3/4 of the meeting!! I was really proud actually. But I will admit that I felt like a mom and definitely got a taste of what it will be like in maybe 10 years! :) haha .Anyways, this week was such a blessing. The focus of course this weekend was on the Work of Salvation. Hopefully it motivated the members! Our branch is doing great. 
Sister Jocelyn should be getting baptized on March 22! She came to church again so we are going to commit her for her interview this saturday! It will be so good for her family. That's the next baptism and then the santiago family has a date for the 29th. I think it will happen it just depends if we wait for their mom to be on board with it as well. Annnnnnnnnd... my Tagalog kind of got better this week. But i repeat..... kind of.
Last night all the lights went out. (happens frequently). But it was so dark, and THANK YOU MOM AND DAD for sending my headlight because even though I looked like a dork, our whole place was lit up. You are the best.
I am doing good, it is all going by too fast. Thanks for everything ! :) 
love,
 

 
sister wood
Courtnee's desk

Courtnee's district leader wearing an American tie

Courtnee helped Brother Rowell (left) get ready for his prom. His jacket is one of the Sister Missionaries. Cute boys
 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Life's A Climb, But The View Is Great!

Sister Wood sporting BYU from head to toe while riding her method of transportation - These are typically used only in the rice fields, but today it was used to ride across town. 

This title was the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of what to title this email hahaha. Please, I hope people know where this saying comes from. (hannah montana movie) It has nothing to do with my email though.
So, first off I would like to say that I hope that everyones life is treating you well at home! If not, remember that God loves you. That is something I have to remember alot here. As a missionary I am still a human and so imperfect. Sometimes I feel like people may get the impression that all of the experiences I have had so far on my mission have been a walk in the park to get used to or may thing that I am so tough. Well, if you know me really well, you probably know that I don't have a high tolerance for pain. In fact I am a big baby. A BIG baby haha. Lets be real, getting stepped on the toes with cleats or getting kicked with a frozen soccer ball in the cold is the most painful thing of my life haha. The the "pain" or hardness here isn't technically physical pain (okay yeah sometimes), it definitely is emotionally and mentally and spiritually hard! Even though the mission probably won't help me be able to tolerate physical pain, I know that mentally and emotionally and spiritually, Heavenly father is helping me become strong and helping me become a lot more tolerant (oh and probably tolerable haha) to all of the frustrations and hardships that I am weak at. I definitely have a long way to go. This last month in Aparri has been the most humbling and difficult time for me. I have discovered things about myself I never knew. This stuff is proof to me that the Lord is shaping me into who he wants me to be. One of the most difficult things for me right now is the language.When I was in Laoag I really thought I was good! That it was all down  hill from there. It wasn't that hard! Well, I feel like I left my knowldege of Tagalog in Laoag because I feel like I am back to square one in the MTC! It has been so hard for me to accept that I am horrible at Tagalog. My whole life I have been able to just catch on to things, so not being able to get this down makes me want to scream! But I have had to humble myself and realize, "okay, you think you can do anything, but you aren't getting anywhere until you turn and rely on the Lord." This small bit of time has made me stronger and more tolerable in every way and I know that God's promise to us in Ether 12:27 is true! That if we humble ourselves and have faith, He will make weak things become strong. Whether a missionary, or a mom, or dad, or son, or daughter, life will never be easy. It was always be hard. But, "Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus christ," (2 timothy 2:3) and we will see His influence and love along the journey. I am so grateful for all of these experiences I am having. I wouldn't trade it for anything! Haha well, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. It was something I was pondering and reflecting on during my personal study this week, and so i wanted to share it with you! 
Whew! This week has been rockin. Many things went on just like every other week. 
First things first, we moved into our new apartment. Man, it was a long process. It took us 1 full day and I am still not done unpacking my junk. My companion is super OCD so I am sure she is freaking out on the inside, but I am just like whatever. I really love the new place it is so nice. The whole place is still under construction so there are workers there everyday. We got there the first day and it wasn't very clean. We had to re-clean it. Well I got in the bathroom, yes this was the part i was actually looking forward to! Go in there, no toilet seat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was the only thing I wanted. So there was a normal toilet, but no seat. Like what's the point? Yeah i walked out and asked the workers if we could please get a toilet seat on our toilet. I want to enjoy my time while I am in the bathroom since I haven't been able to the last month! They took care of it. :) I don't really know why they even let us move in cause there were so many little things not quite right, so they had to keep coming into our apartment to fix stuff. But all is well now. Oh and not to mention, the keys they gave us didn't open our door, so the 3rd night we were there we got home and were completely locked out of our place. That is why there is the picture of the elders there because they had to climb up  the wall into our back door, and literally hit the door so hard the lock would break. And they did it, so our door is a little broken, so the workers had to fix that too! Their fault haha. Since our apartment is still a construction site, we still do get to stand on our balcony in the morning and watch many many rats run around. Don't ask why I am not grossed out by it anymore. So our move was probably the biggest news of the week. 
Old Apartment - I (her Mom) have had several nightmares about this place. I couldn't be happier that she is in a brand new apartment!
New Apartment

Spiral Staircase in the new apartment
The work is going so well! We now have 10 baptismal dates and we had 6 investigators at church yesterday! It was the best! We started teaching so many more new people and found a family that had previously been taught by the missionaries. THe santiago family. The mom doesn't really want anything to do with it, but all her kids want to. They walked with us to church yesterday and it was the greatest thing in the world. They will be getting baptized soon I am sure of it. There are a couple of baptismal dates for this month, but since they didn't come to church yesterday they can't be. THe only one that can is Jocelyn GOtotos. Mitch May's mom. She came yesterday and really wants to be baptized, but she doesn't feel like she can be because she has some debt to pay off. We will continue teaching her because she is so ready! We will help her realize she needs this now, and you don't have to be perfect. So many of the less active families that need to be preparing to get sealed in the temple came to church yesterday! What a joy! I am amazed every day by the incredible faith all of the people have here. We had FHE at the Alcantara's house this week. It is a part member family and GOSH THEY NEED TO BE BAPTIZED! 3 of the kids are, but the parents aren't. We are trying everything to get them to church. It was one of the first times that the whole family was together (photo) and we watched the restoration dvd. the spirit was there, and I pray that they were touched by it. We will extend a date for the family this next week. I am so lucky to be a missionary. Seeing people change is probably the greatest blessing you get as a missionary.
Alcantara Family
Transfer calls will happen this weekend! WHAT THE! Already. I won't be transferred, but there is a good chance my companion will. Guess we will have to see what the Lord wants! :) Thank you all for your continued support everyone. I love hearing from you! 
Love,
Sister Wood
xoxoxo 
View from her balcony

Lights on the ocean

video
a quick video of Courtnee's transportation