Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Book of Life

Sister Wood's area of Aparri - Beautiful

So, I forgot the paper that I usually write what I am going to type in my email, so I am just winging it. Here we goooooooooo!
The family that I talked all about last week you know? Alcantara's. Well, we went back on our last night in the area, and they gave me these two jerseys that the dad wore when he played! So cool right? The "Zion" jersey was one that they had made for their church team. I am in love with it! The other is an old one of the team he coaches now. I am so lucky! I told them I would have my sons wear them and tell them that these came from Marlon Alcantara in the Philippines! They are so sweet. I wrote them a note on the back of my basketball picture, and after Marlon read the note he went and displayed it right on their entertainment center hahaha. I will miss them. 
Changing lives through Basketball
So the biggest change this week was starting in our new area. Before I go into further details about that, I have to report back to you all on how it went finding those rich basketball players. We went looking for the white one. Found where he lived. Asked his "grandma" if there was anyone by that name that lived there. She lied to our faces and said no, she has no idea who that is and that we were at the wrong house. Super rude about it. Little did she know i knew it was their house because their was a cool uniform hanging outside with real Nike compression shorts. Had to be his. Anyways, so we leave and go another way, but then eventually have to pass the same house to go to the next place. The kid is outside the house and sees us. He immediately turns around and starts walking inside, I called him out and asked where he was going... he started out on the nervous shakey talk cause he knew he was caught haha. I was the one talking cause it was in english, and then he looks at us and says he has somewhere to go and just walks off with his grandma that lied to us. UGH!!!! IT MADE ME SO MAD. We didn't even ask to share with him, and he just left. Whatever!! I think it made me more bad because it was in english... that leads me into my next thing I want to share.
We were walking down the street and this guy kind of stops us and asks me, how is the weather up there? (in english). I was like what? where? He goes, "You don't get it?" I said uhhh what do you mean? He said, "Since you are so tall!" and then just starts laughing... he thought he was hilarious. Brought me back to the memory of a little Davis fan that asked me if it is still raining up there during our soccer game against them. No, I have not forgotten that whoever you are. I don't take offense to things like that, I just thought I would share it hahaha.  It is really weird because since I have been talking and communicating in a different language for so long, it hurts 10x worse when someone rejects us or says something rude in english haha it is super interesting.
Alright now I will talk about our NEW AREA!!! Yahoo! So, it is an area more like Laoag. It is in the city with people who have more money than our last area. Which is totally sweet. We made the switch on Monday night and then Tuesday we went with the elders and showed each other our areas. It was all fun and games until we got the area book. Keep in mind that we worked hours and hours to make sure ours looked gorgeous. Well, it was a little bit out of order and incomplete, and made us want to scream. Now this is the topic I would like to focus on in this letter! For all of you soon to be elders and even sisters.... I have come to understand that the area book is seriously so important. There is a reason why the nickname is the book of life. It holds the souls of all the people! As you can see some of the photos I sent home, these are some of the things that teach us what NOT to do with the area book! This is just a little area book 101. It is so important to fill everything out so complete! About the lessons, the people, when they are, just everything haha. The one photo of the date in 2015 makes me laugh. Maybe he is looking into the future or something. The photo of supplies is what Sister Bacalla and i came up with that every missionary needs for the area book haha!
"Book of Life" supplies
We are definitely having separation anxiety from our area book. And I am just helping you to be prepared so that you don't have the wrath of the sister missionaries on you like we have been on the elders! This has been the hardest thing for us in this new area. Just not much to go off of.
The "Book of Life" - I'm guessing the Elder's love Sister wood right now....jokes

There are 23 recent converts that haven't been retaught the lessons, so that is what our focus is the next 6 weeks. I know that Heavenly father isn't going to bless us with any baptisms if we are not taking care of the recent converts. It has been a rough week for Sister Bacalla  and I because it is so new for both of us, we don't know the area, we don't know the ward, we don't know any of the people because their is no information on them and so on and so on. It has been really hard for us not to complain about it. As we focus on the recent converts though I think we will start to see progression. There hasn't been sisters in this area for years! So, we both know that is has been prepared for us and we need to get to work. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we just have to dig down and do it. Our other goal is to not get sick of each other. It is pretty rare to have the same companion for 4 1/2 months, plus we are doing it with this new area, so I think Heavenly Father knows my weakness and is helping me overcome it haha. I love Sister Bacalla. We have learned so much from each other. She is funny and weird, and we have got along great. We are going to need to work extra hard to make it 6 more weeks. But it will be so good for me. She is so funny, she thinks that the electric fans give her stomach aches. Is that even possible? Maybe I am crazy? But I think she is haha. I have helped her start writing in a journal because she hasn't her whole mission. I always knew that the work aspect of my mission wasn't going to be my problem. Living with a girl 24 hours of the day for 18 months would be! (I've just never liked drama)  I am happy to say that I am a lot more patient though! :)  
That is all the stuff I can remember from this week, I am sorry I forgot my little paper. This work is so rewarding. I know that the next few weeks will be tough, but the joy and happiness that will come from it I know will be outstanding. I was writing a letter to my mom this morning and I wrote how I think I am pretty different!  But at the same time I am not. Heavenly Father is refining me, and I can feel it. Every day, every hard time, every frustration I have, he is helping me overcome it all and look at the big picture of this BEAUTIFUL life. :) I know that missionary work is what I need to be doing. And the fact that it is May this week absolutely blows my mind. Thank you so much for everything everyone. 
- Sister Wood
P.S. I didn't get out of exchanges... they are tomorrow. Pray for me for reals this time haha.
Appari Philippines


Monday, April 21, 2014


Sister Wood and Sister Bacalla and the Marlon Family. Basketball.....who would've thought!

Hey hey hey!
Happy Easter for all of those who are at home! I think it is still Easter there. So many of you probably wonder what Easter is like here! Well, it's nothing! Haha I am not joking. I have probably heard the word Easter maybe 4 times this last week. It is just not celebrated like it is back home. Well they have a catholic holiday that I am not too familiar with that has lasted this whole week and everything shuts down, but that's about it. Everyone here is remembering our Savior though, so I guess that is all that matters. Our sacrament meeting was really great yesterday and was all about our Savior. The Spirit was strong, my companion spoke and Sister Richards sang. It rocked. As far as Easter bunny type stuff, there is no such thing. I was just showing my companion pictures of my nephews at the easter egg hunt, and she had never seen anything like that in her life! So, we definitely snazz it up at home. Umm.... I was just randomly thinking this week and I thought you would all like to know that there is no real milk here, and no real cheese here. We used this powdered artificial milk stuff and I don't like it. Sister Richards and I just sit and talk about the taste of a cold glass of real milk and real cheese. Makes our mouth water. Anyways, there is that. The mission gives us calcium pills for the sisters to take, to make sure we get the nutrients, so no worries. 
This week kind of seemed to revolve around the theme of basketball. Which I am cool with. Now I will tell you why! First, a couple of weeks ago, we were at the church waiting for a fellowshipper and were watching the guys play ball. They weren't the regulars, they were actually tall and big and good. Plus, all of them were wearing REAL nike gear. In case you didn't know, all of the brands here are fake. But me being me could tell they were wearing the real stuff. Hey, it caught my interest. We had to leave, but we told ourselves we were going to find out who they were, because they obviously had money. Not to mention that one of them was super white, so I was curious what he was. They would be good potential investigators! Plus, we are seeking out the middle class. The next week at the same time they were there playing again, and so I just went up and started talking to them before they started. The more white kid is named Jason Anderson hahaha such a white kid name. He is half filipino half scottish. He is going to the UK next month to visit, so that of course sparked conversation. Plus they all spoke english. One of the first things he said was that he was born again when we went over there, but we weezled our way in and got the whole teams names, where they lived, and their numbers. And yeah, they have money. ONe's family owns the biggest gas thing here. I sat and talked to them about where they buy their nike gear and stuff and he was wearing the jordan socks i used to wear to practice in high school so i told him that haha. Too bad they were all in the Elder's area though. It's okay, we got it done and they are super sweet referrals. Not to mention, we used Brother Alcantara, the basketball fanatic to get some info on them too! Just another way to BRT. :) Second, was friday we had MCM, so we got all ready, like put make up on and stuff to go, and the church is locked. No one is there. Besides some little boys playing basketball. I wasn't just gonna sit there, so sister richards and I went and played 2 v. 3 against some little boys. In our skirts, all dressed up. We were dripping sweat, it was so disgusting. My shirt was wet and I had to put my hair up. Got a little too intense. But we destroyed them, so that's all that matters. Second to last event, we finally got a lesson appointment with the Alcantara family (basketball fanatics). Finally agreed for all of them to be there for it as well. It was a miracle quite frankly. BUT, the time they set it was the time we were supposed to have exchanges. We personally thought that this appointment (first and last one with them) was pretty important, so we kindly told the sister training leaders that we will need to reschedule exchanges for another time. I would just like to thank all of you for your prayers because since the Alcantara's finally said we could teach them, WE DIDN'T HAVE EXCHANGES!!! Hahaha. So, there is nothing to report to you all on how they went! Woohoo!!! I was terribly sad, I wanted that opportunity... Jokes. I was thrilled, but only cause we were going to be able to teach that family! Hehehe. ;) Now, on to the lesson. I will tell you how it went. Well, I had spent a lot of time preparing something for it related to basketball. I mean because it is the only way they listen and are interested. We came up with the the topic I will follow God's game plan! I made basketballs with things that are a part of God's plan and then Fouls that go against his plan! Anyways, I was so pumped to teach this because on the front of each ball or foul was something you would do in a real game. We got to their house and only the mom was there. She is kind of the stingy one that isn't very welcoming. She told us that the others aren't home and that they are still at the gym. Not giving us much hope. I texted Marlon, the dad but there was no reply. She told us that ususally if he doesn't reply he is still busy. I was kind of bugged, but i literally said a prayer in my heart that they would show up. I kid you not, right after, Kurt his son, walks in the door and then Brother Marlon follows in. I was just dying. In shock quite honestly. They had come home right then just for our lesson even though things were still going on at the gym. Such a miracle from Heavenly Father. We taught their whole family together and it was my favorite lesson I have ever taught here in Aparri. All of us were dressed in basketball jerseys because we are on God's team! It was SO MUCH FUN! We talked about God's plan and game plans. Everything was related to a ball game, but it worked so well and the Spirit was there! We talked about when we foul or we sin, we can come back. We have another chance to start again! I had brother marlon tell a story of a team that was way behind in a game and came back and won it. We related it all to the gospel and it was just so great, there isn't any other way to describe it. Not to mention they were sincerely happy! All the little basketalls and fouls we passed out and had them read some how were all the things the individually need. Don't know how it happened, but not a coincidence.
The "Game Plan" that Sister Wood made to teach the Marlon Family
They love my basketball picture, so I am giving it to them today haha. I am so grateful for Heavenly father's help with that family. Little bit by little bit, they will come back! So now, back to the sweet basketball player referrals we gave to the elders. They haven't contacted any yet, but with the transfers that happened, Sister Bacalla and I will now be in their area and will get to contact our own referrals! It is going to be so fun. I can't wait to start working in that area tomorrow! So I will be in Aparri for at least 6 more weeks! It will be good. I am now in Branch 1 and not Branch 2, so that is the only difference, plus with city area instead! Well, I think that is the low down on this week! Thanks for all your loves and emails and stuff! If you have written me a letter I love you even more, and will hopefully get them soon. No mail has been delivered out here to Cagayan for a while haha. Time is flying by quick and it is freaking me out! I am grateful for this time to really really think about our Savior. I feel like I have come to know him so much more this last little bit. I love him and am so grateful for what he has done for me. Everything really is BECAUSE OF HIM!
Ofa Atu.
- Sister Wood


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Miller

Miller (Elder Toa) is always on Sister Wood's mind

A Delightful Week

Sister Wood and Sister Schrack at Zone Conference
It has been a delightful week. And I am not just saying that either! First, Conference was so nice. It felt so great to just sit and watch it and absorb everything that was being said. I got to really focus on everything that was being addressed. ONLY because... (bad thing)....only 1 investigator was there and he was not a kid haha. I am so grateful for the Spirit that I got to feel. I know that what we heard was coming from God. My favorite talk was from Elder Craig Zwick. I loved it! SO GOOD! I also loved Elder Cook's about family history. I am all of a sudden on this family history kick, which is something I should have always been on haha. I know I used to laugh at my dad when he wanted us to do indexing, and i am sorry! It is so important! I started working on my MY FAMILY book this week and during conference. It has been the funnest thing writing about all my family and all the fun memories I have about them. So yeah, I have repented, and can't wait towork more on family history when I get home. But seriously everyone, get one of those books from the church and it is so simple and easy and fun to fill out! Oh and for Dad and all you Brits, I found wholemeal Digestives here, so that was my snack during the break of conference! :)
Sister Wood loves Family History

So this week we were in a lesson with a young RC and her investigator family! Their living circumstances are probably the worst I have ever seen in my mission this far. I crouched down as I walked into their probably 6x6 house made of palm leaves and dirt floor. We were teaching them about the plan of salvation and sadly it wasn't going as planned. The kids weren't paying attention and neither was the mom. They kept laughing and we were getting frustrated. The mom was breast feeding her 3 year old son right in front of us during the lesson, and it was just kind of chaotic. Then all of a sudden to add to it all, Sister Bacalla just straight up farts. Like loud. Oh my gosh at that point I just BURST OUT LAUGHING! I couldn't handle it. But I am thinking that maybe Filipinos are more mature than us americans because they seem to understand that it is a natural thing that our body does, and no one said anything.... except me hahaha! I was dying. Just everything about that lesson... not to mention that the little RC was trying to convince her brother to get baptized just so he could go in the "pool" at the church haha. Lots of work to do there!
There is a less active family called the Alcantara's. Most their family are members, but they are AVID basketball people. They got offended by our branch president because the branch president said that the only reason they come to church is so that they can use the basketball court for their team to practice. The dad is a "professional" referee here in Aparri and it is just what they live for. There favorite team is the Lakers...  Sister Bacalla has never been able to teach them the whole time she has been here, so I made it my goal to teach this family! They just don't really care about the gospel anymore, and weren't even friendlyto us when we i got here. I started talking to them about basketball. Told them I played. Showed them my pictures, Asked who their favorite team was and such... you better believe that they are willing to talk to us all the time now. I know that this is a little thing, but I am so grateful put me in this area so that I could reach out to them with something we have in common! There is still a long ways to go, but I know that all those little things count. Also, the mom is due this month. I told them if they have a girl to name it Courtnee. They don't know that is my name :) haha. 
Sister Wood's basketball days
Speaking of my name... some of our investigators found my name when they were looking at my stuff, and now that is what they call me... "sister courtnee!" Oh my it is so weird and so not right! Like I really hate it! Don't get me wrong, I love my name, but as a missionary you really kind of get in this mind set, and my name is just Sister Wood right now! 
Well, there are no baptisms coming up. We have a lot of finding to do. We need to really improve our pool of investigators. I love finding though, so it will be good. It is our goal to hit standard this week! 
Next week we will know about transfers. I don't know what will happen with me. It could be either really. I have been here 3 months, my companion 4 1/2, so which ever! Reguardless, there will be change, because they are moving elders into branch 2 and sisters into branch 1. So if i do stay here, i could be in a different area and branch. So we will just see! Also, President Barrientos told us this week that they are opening all areas for sisters now! Like in Santa Ana, Santa Te, all the furthest areas! Shows how much our mission is progressing and how freaking awesome sister missionaries are! So that will change a lot of stuff. I willl let you know though! 
We had a zone activity this morning. It was fun. Played capture the flag and basketball and sharks and minnows. Just felt good to run around for a while. I touched a tree when i was running from someone and immediately got this allergic reaction on my arm and finger. haha it was like uhhh what the heck! But it is gone now. Also, just in the news that I have exchanges with my trainer this week. It is going to be an interesting experience. I might need a few extra prayers hahaha. Wish me luck!
Love you all. 
-Sister Wood
Zone Conference

Handmade Birthday gifts are the best! This one is for Cam, who was in Miller's area in Guam

This picture made me laugh - perhaps a little unsafe

Ano nangyari?

Sister Kuto

Haha so let me just clear the air that I did not break my ankle, it was an April Fools joke! Sorry if people believed it. Haha it makes me happy that people fell for it though. April fools..... so, Sister Richards and I are masterminds... we came up with a prank we could play on the elders next door to us. So before we went to bed, we went up to the top of our apartment building and put 15 packets of food coloring in their water tank hahahaha. Needless to say that the next day they only had pink water. I thought it was absolutely brilliant. And we colored the filipinos rice pink. Good, clean classic fun. Hahaha
April Fools joke on the Elder's - Putting pink dye in the Elder's water supply. Only Courtnee would think of doing something like this.

I would think that sneaking out in the middle of the night in your pajamas might just be against the mission rules :)

Pink Rice

Anyways, first things first... the baptism we were supposed to have on Saturday... Well no one knew where Ismael was on Friday and most of Saturday... . That was problem number one. But he knew his baptism was Saturday at 5, so we weren't worried. We knew he would show up. Time started getting closer so we had to do something. We went and found out where he last was, so we went on a hunt for him. To this place called Black City where his friend lives. The name kinda describes it haha. So we got there and we had never been there and we pull up in the tricey and the first people we see are drunk... so we immediately were worried. We found his friend and he said he had already left to his house. So we were happy cause obviously Ismael knew he had to be at his baptism. We went back to the church where we were just going to wait, and called his phone again.  Okay keep in mind that he hadn't replied to us for 2 days. The call went through and his sister answered and was kind of freaking out. Basically just kept saying that he is drunk he is drunk! We went with one of the RM's in the ward over to his house and told branch 1 to just start the baptism. Supposedly before we got over to his house he had gone psycho and was violent. His sisters had taken all the little kids in another room. I guess he wigged out because he heard a LA member say that "Oh you are have thing missionaries teach you, but you just get drunk." When we walked  in he had been crying and was still a bit drunk and his sister and mom were kind of holding him there. Don't worry he was calmed down, but it was just crazy. Super sad. When we were there he told us he promised to get baptized next saturday, and that he wasn't ready this week. Haha we looked at each other and are just like uhhh yeah right. He shook our hands before we left and then tried to give me a hug hahaha don't worry i rejected him bad. Anyways, he was with his friends at a graduation party and drank! So the baptism didn't happen this week.
I feel like this week was just weird haha. We were walking down along the beach the other day to get to an appointment and we saw this lady squatting on the sand just crying. We of course stopped to see what was wrong. We got talking and ended up teaching her. But we found out that she was in a fight with her boyfriends mom and that she hadn't slept in 3 days, and that she did drugs the night before, and that she had them in her bag, and she had such a bad head ache so she asked if she could smoke while we taught. We said no. But man, I feel like I can't even comprehend some of the problems these people have! I am grateful to know that my calling is to only share the gospel with them! Though we all know that the gospel will make everything okay. I think she will be a pretty good investigator though. We just sat on the sand and taught her. Definitely probably a once in a lifetime experience!
There were supposed to be 3 baptisms this month, but with Ismael's incident and a part member family, but they didn't come to church this week, so they can't be baptized. It is hard when we thought that we had for sure baptisms this month, but then just like that we probably won't have any. 
We got to go to the #WomensMeeting haha broadcast this week! Super sweet. We all loved it. Only the sister missionaries were there watching it though, so that was kind of sad. Wish more of the members would have taken the chance! I loved seeing videos of salt lake and stuff. I can't wait to watch conference next week! All of the talks in it were pretty dang good. Talking about how we are all sisters. Literally! We are all united. It was really good for me. I know that a lot of you know that I would rather not deal with girls and just hang out with guys, so it was a good thing for me to hear that I need to be more sisterly? I don't even know if that is a word, but I think you all kind of get what I am trying to say. I can't think of how to describe it haha. 
We had zone training meeting this week. I wanted to KILL Elder Castillo because he made me be the chorister. Like put me on the program before even telling me. He knows I don't sing and I don't do anything related to music. And it was The Spirit of God the longest song ever. He just sat and laughed at me the whole time...  I wasn't very happy. Sister Rico gave us a training since she is our new STL in our zone. It was good! She even called on her, i repeat, "ex-kasama" to read! That's me. Haha anyways, that's when you know the months are going by fast... when you have zone meetings all the time it feels like. 
So, I think that is about all that is happening here in Aparri for the time being! I am happy! I am lucky, and I am so grateful for the gospel! It has a whole new meaning to me. The gospel is life! I love it. 
Also, I think it is my parents anniversary today! Hope you are enjoying it in beautiful europe :) And happy birthday to lyndy argyle wood this week! I love my family! 
Ofa Atu!
Sister Wood
P.S. check out how long my hair is. 

I'm Broken

So big news first.... The Philippines Laoag Mission had 141 baptisms this month! Just letting everyone know, that is A LOT! We are totally hitting 1000 souls this year. It is so exciting. The work is moving forward. It is progressing and it is AWESOME.
Second big news.... I broke my ankle. The one that I have rolled a million times you know? Well, we were walking along this bridge type thing in our area and it wasn't very high off the ground. As we were walking it gave way and my one foot fell through and completely went sideways. I tried to walk it off thinking it was just a rolled ankle like always, but we got back to the apartment and it swelled up and i got to the point where I couldn't even walk on it. Sister Barrientos just told me to go get it checked out to make sure and what do you know, there was a little crack in it. It was so dumb though cause I didn't even feel it or hear it. The doctors is pretty sketch here, but you could see it in the x-ray. They put this cast type thing on it. It is not like the way they are at home, and i have to wear it for 6 weeks. The worst news is, I can't go out and proselyte. It is so lame. I am way mad about it. I don't know how I am going to handle sitting inside all day. Plus my poor companion. We will have to do exchanges every other day i think. I guess I will get the language down cause that is all I will sit and study... Yeah it is such a bummer. Don't worry mother I will be okay! So there ya go, enough about that though.
So the baptism on saturday!!! The santiago famiy! There were 5 of them baptized! I wish you could see a picture, but it isn't letting me send photos! It was really great though. It didn't go as smoothly as it could have, but that's okay! We went to the church that morning to make sure everything was good. The font hadn't been drained since last week so it was completely brown with a dead frog in it. Yeah I got a photo, and yes, I wasn't very happy. Haha I don't care where you are, that is so disgusting not to drain the water! They took care of it though.
The Santiago Family

The Dirty Font
 At first, only the kids showed up. Their parents were not there to see them or support them. But right before the actual baptisms were going to happen she walked in the door. Such a blessing from Heavenly Father! She got to see her kids get baptized. Baptisms are always stressful to me, but I need to learn to just go with the flow. IT IS HARD. 
Next week we also have a baptism since Ismael Nanay passed his interview. It will be combined with branch 1 with a kid who is about his same age. It will be pretty sweet. He is really ready. The Lord is blessing this area so much right now. Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve to have all of these baptisms. I thank Heavenly Father every day for his entrust in me to teach all of his children! 
This week we had zone conference. It was pretty bomb. Mostly just because I got to see some of my favorite people in the world. I am so dang happy that I have met so many legit people here on my mission. Sister Brewer will be forever one of my best friends...and sister willson. We are planning to go to Australia June 2015 to see Sister Willson get married. There is some useless information haha. The training was pretty good though. We have some pretty awesome leaders. And we got enough Centrum to last us until July. That is probably the most exciting thing... because we didn't get mail, just pouches. And Sister Brewer and Willson are the only ones that pouch me. But I am not complaining :). 
Yesterday at church one of the old branch presidents would not drop the fact that i need to marry a filipino. I just kept saying nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. He tried to give me every reason that it was a great idea but I just kept saying nooooooooooooooooooo. Haha he told me he wishes I was assigned in the other area so that I could see his sons all of the time. Oh my heavens... then just went off about cross breeding and how all filipinos want tall genes. He told me that President Mabbun could just marry his son and i right then and there and told me to tell my mom that I was never going back to the states hahaha. I just laughed and told him sorry brother that is NOT happening. My mother would not approve, nor would I. Haha us white girls get stuff like that all the time here.
Well, I think that is about it for the week! I am sorry there are no pictures. I can't believe it is already almost April. Oh hey, Happy Birthday to Cassidy Denney this week! I miss you, and love you, and am so lucky that you are my sister. You are probably almost 30.
Love you all! It is burning hot here right now! 
Sister Wood.
P.S. April fools. ;)