Monday, July 28, 2014

We Love Recent Converts!!

Sister Wood and the other missionaries in the ward

Rainy Season in the Philippines

I am writing this with a big smile on my face, because I am so grateful for all of things that Heavenly Father has blessed me with! So if I am writing this with a smile, you can all read it with a smile. :) 
My life in San Nicolas continues on! Our week comprised of mostly teaching recent converts haha. We taught 24 lessons of just recent converts, so that kind of gives you an idea. But we put a dent in their reteaching, so I am happy! So listen, last monday I had a dream that one of the recent converts was pregnant, and we went their the night after, and they told us that she is waiting to find out if she is pregnant! Way weird... but super sweet at the same time. I have actually enjoyed reteaching the recent converts, we gotta help them keep strengthening their testimony. There is one recent convert family that is preparing to be sealed in the temple in September! So cool to see.
Being a missionary is just really funny sometimes, and even though you are a missionary, there are times you just do stupid things on accident haha. We thought this man named Charito was a long less active member of the church, so we went and found him and told him we just want to teach you for 5 minutes if that is all you have. In the meantime he is going off about how the Catholic church is the true church and I just keep saying, "Brother what are you talking about? You are a member of the true church of Jesus Christ!" Basically just saying stop saying that you are already a member of the only true church haha. Come to find out after about 10 minutes of this talk that he has never even been baptized and had only come to our church once when he was taking his kids there. Hahaha oh my gosh I laughed forever and just kept saying sorry. That was my fault, and we need to ask more questions haha!  Then right after that we were walking down the road and we saw some people roasting a full dog. That was my first encounter of that haha. It looked like a dalmation,
We are teaching a really cute family. (the kids in the photo) They all came to church on Sunday. They are so cute. She washed my clothes for me this week. They have a baptism date for August 30th. We will keep visiting them and helping them prepare! 

So there is actually a 7-11 here. But it is not as good as at home. We do reporting every saturday and then walk to 7-11 afterwards since it is just down the street from the church. Convenient right? Haha also too convenient for the members to leave church and break the sabbath day on sundays! But i got a hot chocolate cause it has been way rainy. It almost tasted the same as at home. 
Also, I am reading the book Jesus the Christ. HOLY smokes, it is blowing my mind. In the best possible way. It is such a cool book. If you have not read it, buy it and read it. Most people say that it is so deep, but really I know that the Holy Ghost helps you to understand it because I have been reading it just like any ordinary book! I am learning so much. President Barrientos once said that there is no such thing as deep doctrine, it is just deep understanding. SO TRUE. I am really learning who Christ was, his personality, his miracles... and it is making me grow closer to him. EVERYONE, read it. 
I also found out that Sister Willson is coming to the US of A next year for conference. I AM SO EXCITED! It is going to be a blast. Seriously I will just say it again, that I have made the best friends here on my mission. I AM SO LUCKY! 
Well, I know I am sorry this isn't the longest e-mail I have every written, but I feel like that is about it for the week! Love you all. 
Sister Wood

Sister Wood's desk

Sister Wood's bed - Guess which one is hers

See that bucket? Yep, that's where she showers :/

Filipino Breakfast

Beautiful Countryside

Monday, July 21, 2014

More & More Out of My Bubble

The Filipino Sister's in Courtnee's apartment

I have been really excited to write you all at home about my week! So we had transfers on Tuesday. So yeah, that means I am in San Nicolas right now! It is about 10 minutes away from the mission home. Sweet right? It was sad to leave Aparri, but it was time. Now I am here, and I get to tell you all about this new place!
First off, my companion is named Sister Servancia. She is 26 years old. She is from Cavite. Kinda close to Manila. She is only 6 months in her mission, so I am senior companion. She is really nice! It is just weird when I stop and think that my companion is older than my sister who has 2 children. But it's chill! No biggie haha. So far, we have gotten along just fine! :) I have really needed her help getting to know the area. Oh, and she is 4'8...........
I just want to say that this area could not be any more opposite than it was in Aparri. In EVERY possible way haha. Our specific area is far away from our apartment. We can't walk there, we always have to ride. It is very jungley, but at the same time very farmy. There is some bukid of rice fields, but it's more actual farm land like at home! With corn and cows, and goats and stuff. There are so many trees, the air is so fresh, and it is very very clean! They actually have a lot that they enforce on littering, so it is way nice. Our area was in fine shape when I got here. There has been so many baptisms in this area, but once again just like aparri, they have not been retaught any of the lessons. I opened the area book and counted the amount (27 recent converts) and just laughed. Of course president would send me to another place with a zillion recent converts haha. And once again, that will be our main focus the rest of this transfer! I was really surprised because there has been tons of baptisms in this area, but if you look in the investigator section of the area book there was only 3 investigators! Haha I didn't really know how that worked, but we need to do a lot of finding! We are going to be working really hard and teaching more lessons. It is going to be lots of work. Holy smokes. But we aren't backing down. :) Along with the work in the area, we have a lot of work to do as missionaries in this ward to help strengthen it. Our Ward mission leader is 19years old and is so awesome. Best WML i have had my whole mission. With the help of him we gotta help the leaders in the ward more fulfill their callings so it will function better. We have Elder Challis and Elder Sablan in our ward with us. They are pretty legit and awesome missionaries, so they are good at taking control of things. I had to bear my testimony in sacrament. Haha I was so nervous! I don't know why. It still scares me to do. Only cause it is in a different language. Hopefully I didn't mess up. 
So I will rewind to transfer day when we pulled up to our apartment. We were taking all of my stuff in and there were only 2 other Filipino sisters there. I asked who else was staying here and they said just us! So yes. I am living with all filipinos! Haha for some reason I never even thought that I would be doing this. It has been quite the adventure to tell you the truth! You would think that being on your mission over a year that you would be used to the culture and customs. Yeah, NO. I was like so uncomfortable that first day. I didn't know what to do with myself haha. First off, there is no english spoken in the apartment unless i forget and start saying stuff to them in english. They really don't know how to speak english, so it is really hard to just have a chill conversation haha. All I am going to say is I should have the language MASTERED after this transfer! :) It has been hard for me not being able to express myself in the apartment in english, but in the end I know it will be a blessing haha. So a lot of time on your mission you hear that a lot of arguments between missionaries is over food. Haha it sounds really lame, but I can now see why that is! Lets just say I STARVED all week. There was nothing for me to eat. They only eat fried eggs and hot dogs with rice every morning for breakfast and there wasn't even any oatmeal or cereal in the apartment! I ended us just boiling some eggs and eating them plain for breakfast haha. Rice is an every meal thing here, and it is a must for them. It's okay I just don't eat it haha. The only thing that really irked me was I was so excited to shop at a supermarket!!! Since we have the nicest one here. Yeah that was the wrong idea because they want to shop at the market. Like the one in Aparri. (every town has them). Because it is more cheap. AHHHHH so you better believe we went to the palengke this morning and got our veggies and rice and eggs haha.They wanted to get our meat there too and that is where I put my foot down and said no, we are getting it from a real store where it is clean haha. Along with that, I was so excited to finally have fillet chicken because it doesn't have bones! I hate eating meat with bones! Haha they don't want it because is too expensive. They just buy a whole chicken and cut it up themselves! I will just live with it haha. I discovered that i couldn't brush my teeth with the sink water this week because I woke up every morning with a stomach ache even if I don't even swallow it! Can't do that anymore. 
I am the only american sister in our district! Hahaha our district is so brown. :) Lots of polys and filipinos. It is super weird. I feel out of place. And I am only  1/3 of the sisters in our whole zone. Haha i thought it would be like this in cagayan, not in san nicolas! It's cool though. Leads me to my next thing... We have the coolest zone in the entire word. OH MY GOSH! Thursdays are the best. These are just a few of the people in our zone.... Elder Castillo, Elder Van Brunt, Elder Thurman, Sister Shrack, Sister Webb, Sister Bacalla, Elder Challis, Elder Sablan.. Haha it is SO HAPPY! 
Well, I am out of time. I think that is good enough for now. I have a lot to get used to, but it is just going to help me become a better person and missionary. Have an amazing week. :) 
Sister Wood
Sister Wood's new area

The dress shop in Aparri

Monday, July 14, 2014

In & Out . Peace Out Aparri

Saying Goodbye to Aparri

Farewell Aparri

It's that time again! And I will start with the biggest news of the week! I am getting transferred. I have mixed feelings about it. They did transfers different this time. Yesterday, all the people who were transferring got a text saying if they were transferring. Then they said, check your email tomorrow and see where you are going and who your companion will be. It was the worst because it just left us hanging! I was super sad like I said I would be because I didn't want to leave. Just with all of the good people we have right now. But we woke up and checked our email at 8 am and I found out that I am transferring to San Nicholas! Which is basically Laoag! Hahaha. I AM SO EXCITED I WAS SCREAMING! Like I am sad to leave, but I clearly remember saying ahhh I just want to go to San Nicholas! And that is where I am going. So it is the town across the bridge from Laoag, and it is where the biggest mall is in our mission. Haha I mean the only mall in our mission. I am thrilled because I have heard that it is a challenging area, but awesome at the same time. It is a stake there. So I will have served in both of the only stakes in our mission! It is going to be sweet. My companion is a Filipina that I heard is tiny and 25 years old, but I will be the senior companion. It is going to be a good time. Plus Elder Castillo will be my zone leader again! We leave here at 3:30 am tomorrow morning. Honestly I am more excited than anything! The sister that is replacing me couldn't have been any better! She is a lot like me, so she will fit right in with our investigators and the way we taught them. I am so happy about it, because i was worried. I know this area in Aparri will continue to progress.
Time continues to fly right before our eyes, and it is hard to believe. We all know that is has been 4 months now since my Miller passed away. He has been on my mind a lot. As hard as it has been, I am so grateful that I am serving a mission when it all happened. I have reflected on everything, and God's plan for all of us has become such a reality. The atonement, the plan of salvation. But more specifically, his plan for each of us. Not only our own personal plan, but he cares about how you feel when something happens to one you love? Does this make sense? I don't know. But here are my thoughts. That Heavenly Father knew how close Miller and I were. So he put people into my life that could make me feel close to him even thought he's not here on earth with us anymore. Okay it's a pretty complicated thing, but all I know is that God is aware of me, and aware of my feelings, so he did what he could to somewhat ease the pain. And oh my heavens I can't wait for the day that we are together again. As a missionary (maybe this is just me), when I think of the reunion with my family again it just gives me this rush of joy and excitement. That reunion will be in several months. But I feel the same way about  seeing miller again! That same rush of excitement is the exact same. Because I know it will happen! It could be a longer wait, but I just can't wait for the day. I miss that boy so much. 
Alright, well it kind of feels weird updating you on our area, because I will be leaving it tomorrow! I will just tell you though that the barkada of boys is doing good. We knew at first that there would be some that progress faster than others, and that is what we have been seeing now. Only 2 of them came to church on sunday, but these 2 we know will be baptized on their date. We had some amazing lessons with them all this week. I love when they feel the Spirit. Even though not all of them came to church, most all of them are reading the book of mormon every night. I gave them all a colored pencil to use to mark their scripture and I was loving watching them mark their scriptures as we read them in the lesson. I am going to miss them! 
Well, I think that is all the update I have for you. Can you believe it has been 6 months since I have been in Aparri? That i have been emailing you all from the same computer shop in the middle of Cagayan for 6 months now? Haha I can't. Lets just say that enough time has gone by for this little shop to get air conditioning. 
Love you all lots.
Sister Wood
PS: The one photo is me drinking buko juice. Or coconut water. So delicious.
Drinking Buko Juice (Coconut Water)
Fancy lunch - Elder Hickey

Making a roof

Hands from catching crabs everyday

Filipino Cows

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ups and Downs

Hey everyone. :)
How was the celebration of America? Believe it or not they have a holiday here on the 4th of July. Something like Philippines and America friendship day! Haha I thought that was interesting. As far as celebrations go, there wasn't anything too fancy. We made barbecue chicken and mashed potatoes if that counts. I wore my America get up like I wore in the MTC and on September 11th, but that is about the extent of our partying. It is so weird to me though that holidays and things are starting to repeat themselves! Since I have been gone over a year! But it was a nice day to remember our amazing, beautiful, glorious country.
So I have had my eye on this jacket from an ukay-ukay the last month or so... My companion wanted to go back and look around, so of course i agreed because i don't have a problem with shopping. But the problem with me is I rarely walk into a store and walk out with nothing. Especially here because everything is so cheap. Well, I left there paying p500 for a black sequin blazer and a real Polo flannel shirt. That's about $10. To say I am happy about it is an understatement. This place rocks. On the flip side, both pairs of my only proselyting shoes got large holes in them. My Toms which is what I was using, and then somehow my disgusting crocs with holes got back to me from Laoag, and I used them once but my feet were just flooded with water the whole time. Luckily the next day, the elders brought up my much urgent package with my new shoes in them. Perfect timing!
On a mission the weeks are really bi-polar. They can start out super good, and then end just dreadfully. We had a great start of the week and it ended not what we wanted it to. As a part of the 17 investigators that were at church was a group of young women. This week we of course went back and taught them and had a great lesson about the book of mormon. This was on the 4th of July. Afterwards they were saying that their hobby is singing so sister ramos told them to give us a sample. Each of them just took a turn and started singing. It was good, but so awkward at the same time. I just don't like singing and stuff, plus we were all just sitting there watching. Anyways, maybe it is a common thing here in the Philippines because Sister Ramos did it too! Just gave them a sample of her singing. So then they were SISTER WOOD SISTER WOOD!!! Bahahaha i just told them heck no I am not singing. Somehow we started singing The Star Spangled Banner, and they know like the first line of it, and then it quickly falls away, so i was left singing it. Oh my gosh let me just tell you that I am overcoming fears like no ones business here. They didn't come to church this week...
The barkada of boys. Oh boy oh boy. Their problem is word of wisdom, so we knew we would have to teach that right off the bat after the Restoration so that they can start following it so that they can be baptized. The lesson went so great. We had them each write their name on a piece of paper. (some couldn't even hardly write their names). Then write what their problems are. It was the greatest thing ever. We obviously knew it wasn't going to happen over night, but we told them we would help them. They all committed to live it. Jordan one of the boys was smoking a pack a day, but we went back the next day and he had only had 2 cigarettes! BIG PROGRESS! All of them. So awesome. We told them that we would randomly come by their homes and as how they are doing and if they haven't drunk or smoke or had coffee, we would give them a piece of candy. It has been working. We just get candy from Mercury Drug store which is more imported type, and that is their prize if they are keeping it. They look at it like it is gold! Along with word of wisdom, we taught them about the book of mormon and gave each of them their own book. It was a really great lesson because we had a RC there who is struggling with some of the same problems. It was so cool seeing all of these boys holding a book of mormon in their hands. We taught them how to find the different books and how to find the pages. Stuff they have no idea about because only a few are going to school or even educated. There are a couple who don't even know how to read. They all committed to go to church and to read and pray about the book of mormon. We went back on sunday to remind them about church. It just happened to be a day where the fisherman had caught a lot of fish and were coming in from the sea. Causing all of them to go and help them bring it in because most of them are providing life for themselves. If they help carry the boat in, the men will give them a couple fish for free. They think of it as their meals for the day, so they all go and do it. It is interesting to watch, but pretty sad at the same time. They knew they had to go to church, but they put that as number one priority, so none of them ended up coming to church. Yeah, we were heart broken. We were expecting 20+ investigators to be at church and only 4 ended up coming.
Brother Noriel the one that was supposed to be baptized on July 19th. Haha in my last email I wrote june 9th. Yeah, don't know what i was thinking with that one. But he didn't come to church yesterday, so i think we are going to have to move his date too. Ah I hate doing it, but they have to know that the sabbath day is the most important, and we can't baptize people that are just going to go less active.
So that is what I mean when a week can start out awesome, and then just go in the slumps because no one came to church. I know I have said it before, but Sundays are like the hardest days in the mission! Either super awesome, or super sad. We did everything we could to get them all to church, but they have their agency. We just need to help them use it wisely.
Well, this sunday we will find out about transfers! I think i have a 50/50 chance to stay here, or to leave. I will go wherever the Lord wants me to go. :) I will let you know what happens! We are all anxious, but can't believe that it is already over.
Sister Wood

A terrifying bridge that Sister Wood has to cross everyday. The original bridge was washed out in a storm, so the locals built this contraption.

Lynn asked why the city doesn't fix the bridge and Courtnee responded , "hahah, Dad, you have no idea. I could run the city over here." hahah. She probably could.

The market in Laoag

Laundry day