Called to Serve in the Philippines Quezon City Mission
Speaking the Tagalog language
January 2013 to July 2014

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Few Of My Favorite Things.......

Ammah walking across a very safe and well constructed bridge to see her investigators.
P Day. hiking with some missionaries in her district.

Hello my sweet little Family!

Thank you mom for keeping me updated on everyone it's so nice to hear what everyone is up to. I also just got in our mail run yesterday (which happens every 2 weeks) all my dearelders that people have sent and also ones that came to the mtc the day that I left that I didn't get but Elder Del Rosario was kind enough to send them to me so I got a few from you guys and also Michelle, it was fun to read them cause you were all wishing me luck on my flight hah and I've now been here for an entire month! I hope Mariah and the baby are doing well I want pictures! Tell her I said congratulations! And whaaa? Hunter is going into phlebotomy? so cool! He will love it:) Tell Elder Tuckett that it's not as bad as he is thinking ha! I have a nice comfy bed and a roof over my head so i am all fine and dandy. Thank you Sis. Tuckett for the updates on him btw they are awesome! I was reading it and getting jealous of the weather there because it is so hot here ha-ha.My most prized possessions is my fan and umbrella. Amelia good luck in all your audition endeavors keep me updated on the elite team, your solo and if you made the top choir, good luck baby sis I think about you every day and pray for you. I have the picture of the 3 of us on my study desk and I look at it all the time and just miss the heck outta ya ha-ha your definitely going to be taller than me by the time I get back ha! Ano bayen! Also Andelyn pleaaaseee be safe while learning how to drive listen to dad and do what he says (I know mom doesn't dare get in the car with you ha-ha!)

Sarah and Michelle I got your dear elder.....needless to say I laughed through the whole thing and everyone kept looking at it but it wasn't making any sense to anyone but me! I tried to explain it to Sabiano but she just didn't understand hah! I love you guys I miss you oh so much and think about you and I hope your husbands are treating you right :)
Well I made it a month in the Philippines!!  It's been the hardest month but it's been full of adventure and spiritual experiences that I will never forget, and I look forward to the next 16 months here. I asked Sister Sabiano what squatters were Mom cause you mentioned that Sister Wilson has them in her area and Sister Sabiano said that they are just concrete one roomed houses that are all jammed together and they have about 10 inches in between all of them and you have to squeeze in-between them to get to the other houses. We have a few of those neighborhoods in our area but not a whole lot.
It's definitely been easier over the past week I’m getting used to the heat and the food and…I’m feeling a lot better I just need to remember to keep eating a lot of fruits and veggies.
I almost have everyone’s names down and where they live at so it makes the work so much more meaningful now that I know everyone better. I extended 3 baptismal invitations this week to our progressing investigators and they all accepted so now we have 9 investigators with baptismal dates for the month of April and we will probably have 11 by the end of this week woohoo!! The work is so fulfilling and my heart is full :) it's been so cool watching people that we found on my first few days here and they are just really accepting our message and a few of them are the ones that have baptism dates and I am sooo excited for them and I feel so blessed to watch them come closer to our savior from the very beginning. I think I told you about one of them in my last email Tatay E and his 10 year old son Jamie, They are absolutely wonderful! I love teaching them they just want to learn more and more ha-ha. And the cool thing is that one by one their other family members come in and listen to us including their 21 year old son who is really interested as well. We taught them last night about the book of Mormon and Tatay starting telling us about his past and that he has had a lot of struggles with forgiving people in the past who have really hurt him.
When he was 10 years old his parents left him and his siblings, there were 7 of them and Tatay was the oldest with the youngest being only 7 months old. He had to go out and get a full time job and he supported him and his siblings for 7 years until one day his parents just showed up again. He has never been able to forgive them for leaving him and his siblings, he feels like his childhood was taken away from him and he had to grow up really fast and the whole thing has really brought him misery throughout the years. So through the scriptures in the Book of Mormon we shared with him a message about the healing power of the atonement and how Christ can help lift those burdens off his shoulders and help him to let go of those feelings and forgive them. He had tears in his eyes and the spirit was so strong. This missionary work is so important. These people need to know their savior is Jesus Christ and I am so grateful to have been able to share with him my testimony of the atonement.
He and Jamie came to church this Sunday and loved it, they say they are going to come every week and he has been on and everyday reading about the church YAY it's awesome. I am so excited! We got to go to the temple this morning and it was so wonderful, oh how I've missed going to the temple every week! It’s definitely something I will look forward to every transfer. It rained a few days this week and as much as I love the rain.... But as a missionary? In the Philippines? bueno! Especially cause our area is on the mountain and it's all dirt so we are climbing up these mountains in the slick mud ha-ha we have piles of mud on our shoes and we were so nasty by the time we get home, it takes us twice as long to get to our investigators houses so we only taught 4 lessons this one day but man we are exhausted! The days are so hard and we are so tired by the end but as I sit down at the end of the day to write in my journal I just love every moment with our investigators and less-actives.
 A few of my favorite things here about the culture and just in general are: the babies (Filipino babies are THE cutest!), the mangoes and bananas (awe man they are so good!), everywhere you go you can always hear people singing karaoke ha-ha the Filipino’s looove to sing even if they aren’t very good (my favorite is the Power of Love by Celine Dion ha-ha that seems to be a favorite of theirs cause I hear it often and they totally and completely butcher it but it's awesome and sister Sabiano and I just crack up), during the nights ( there is always a cool breeze blowing and it feels so good after a long day) and my personal study time every day! My personal scripture study time every day is one of my favorite things here besides teaching lessons, it's my time to just study the scriptures and read, take notes, read talks etc.. I have been learning so much and growing so much spiritually, it's a habit that I want to carry on for the rest of my life. I encourage each one of you to set aside time during the day to study the scriptures and not just read them but STUDY, take notes record spiritual impressions. You will grow so much closer to our heavenly father as you study his doctrine daily and begin and end with a prayer to receive revelation and that your heart will be open to receiving guidance from the spirit. It has been strengthening my testimony about everything that I teach and it is helping me be a better missionary. I also encourage you to study Preach My Gospel, it isn't just for missionaries it is for everyone! The principles taught in it can help us all in our daily lives to learn the gospel and be able to share it with others. It is truly an inspired book and I have grown leaps and bounds through studying it daily. During our stake conference Elder Hales spoke all about scripture study and it was great! With all the temptations that come our way in the world today it is a necessity to have deep roots to hold us steady and we can strengthen those roots through daily scripture study and prayer. I invite you to start making these things daily habits my family, and I promise you that you will see a difference and you will grow closer to our savior and our Heavenly Father. I love you family I pray for you, I miss you, I think about you often (but not to often to distract me :)) but I do think about you and hope you are all doing well. Thank you for your love and support I am so blessed! Ingat pamilya ko, be safe! Enjoy the pictures :)  
Ammah and her companion Sister Sabiano

                                          Ammah's says this is her favorite Philippino treat.
                                              The bridge Ammah has travel to and from
                                                     some of her investigators homes.
                                               Hiking to some of the investigators homes.
                                      Some of the hiking and trails Ammah travels each day.
                                                                 The Mission Home
Some kind of  fruit.
Ammah's SUPER CLEAN room. There is hope!
Companion and roomates
In front of our apartment! It's nice!

Love Sister Jones

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Listen to the Spirit

Andelyn.....HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! I hope you had a wonderful day and I CAN'T believe your 17..what the heck..ano bayen!!! Ha-ha.  You will have to tell me all about the fun shenanigans you did for your Birthday de ba? You guys are probably having your birthday dinner at this moment ha and my guess is that it's probably chicken broccoli casserole right?? mmm sounds so so good! Sige, well Andelyn I hope your day was wonderful and that the prom preparations are going well and I want pictures ya hear! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY again, I love you!

I loved the pictures you sent from the Easter Pageant I can barely recognize dad! His beard looks soo great!!!   

Andelyn’s dress looks adorable it's so her. I can't wait for the pictures from prom

Well family I made it through my third week! It’s been hard but it's so great. We have met a lot of great people this week who have been prepared to hear our message and we also got the privilege of hearing from two Apostles via satellite at stake conference specifically for the Philippines. Elder Holland, and Elder Hales, Sister Mary Cook and David Evans all gave great talks and it's just such a blessing that the leaders of our church are able to speak to us even though we are thousands of miles away.

I've been a little sick this week, having really awful stomach pains from the climate change, the water and different food. A lot of rice! It’s all definitely not treating me very well paro I'm feeling much better today I’ve been taking some medicine approved by SIs. Delamare  to help. So no worries :)

One thing that I have been learning the most here is about how to listen to the spirit and to let it guide the work we do. As a missionary the spirit is the most important thing to have with us because without it we cannot teach these people. We can share with them all the lessons we can think of paro without the spirit they cannot know for themselves that what we are telling them is true. Through the spirit we were able to find new investigators this week who are so wonderful and so hungry for the gospel, and I know that the spirit put them in our path. We were teaching an investigator of ours outside of their house because a relative of theirs was drunk inside so we had to teach outside that day, these two boys walked by and saw us and came and sat down and started listening and reading the pamphlets of the restoration that were sitting on the log next to them. Sister Sabiano was talking and during I just couldn't keep my eyes of these little boys reading this pamphlet. So at the end I walked up to them and offered them each their own pamphlet to keep and read and they both asked us to come teach their families. One boy was only 10 years old and he brought us to his dad and we shared about the first lesson and I could just feel the spirit so strong I was almost starting to cry. We taught them again yesterday and the dad is just soaking everything up and wants to get a hymn book to read the hymns and he wanted the address to to read more . :o) He just keeps asking us for more and he has great questions and just listens so well. He's had a lot of problems with other churches in the past so he just doesn't go anymore. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for him and his family. plus he understands English really well hehe :) yesterday we shared about families and how they can be sealed in the temple and I was just thinking about how grateful I am to be sealed to my family for eternity and to have the opportunity to get sealed to my future family, and how so so blessed and thankful I am to have the opportunity here to teach families how they can obtain these same blessings and be together after this life forever. It's so great!

We have a service project every week, and this week we helped one of the less active families clean up an area by their house so they can build more and at the end some of our ward missionaries (monkey climbed) up the coconut trees and cut down some for all of us so we all sat around together afterward drinking fresh coconut juice and eating coconut meat, it was soo good!

 So I gave some more of my CD's out to some of the ward missionaries I only  gave them 2 but then they made more copies for the others to have ha-ha They are so funny they always ask me to sing for them. And they keep playing the cd all the time everywhere we go cause they know I don't like to listen to myself, they think they are all so funny most of them are turning their papers in to serve missions soon which is awesome.

We went to a less actives house this week and I’ve never been there before. And I understand why we don't go often because they live pretty far out on this mountain and we have to hike about 15to 20 minutes to get there and we come to this big river to cross and the only way to get across is this bridge made out of bamboo and wire (what?) it looked like something out of an adventure movie and it's about 15 feet over the river and about 50 feet across. It was so scary but it was fun too haha. Yah so I’m sending pictures of our apartment  I’ll send more next week but Mom yes… we have beds and a fridge, toaster, rice cooker, stove and even a blender so it's pretty nice. We have started cooking a lot of our food basically rice for every meal because it's cheap and some kind of side. I really love the food and I’ve tried a few things like barbequed chicken intestines on a stick J it's actually pretty good. I'll probably be trying balut soon cause the ward missionaries want to see me try to eat it.

Well Family I love you all soo much, please be safe and follow the spirit,I love you!

Sister Jones

***Unfortunately , we did not receive any pictures from Ammah. The process was taking too long to download and she ran out of time  :o(
Also…A balut is a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell. It is commonly sold as street food in the Philippines.
                                         Balut Egg Embryo. mmmmm





Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Picture Update

Thanks to Mama Wilson (mother of Ammah's MTC companion Sis Wilson, who took the pics)
We have some pictures. Yay!
Ammah's District

Parting is such sweet Sorrow

 A teary eyed goodbye to all the district boys that Ammah and Tasha went to class with, to church with, ate with, prayed with, and played with.
                                                                      Off to Tokyo

                                     In the Philippines and dog tired from their 20 hour flight.

Sister Wilsons bathroom, look closely...see the drain, bucket and hose.
Yup, that's the shower too. Oh boy.
       Sister Wilson in her area. We are thinking Ammah's area looks quite a bit like this as well.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I absolutely love being a missionary!

Hello Pamilya Ko!

I looved the video! haha so funny! And the picture made me want to cry. (I sent her a video of some pageant practical jokes and a picture of Dave during the Last Supper Scene in the Easter Pageant) I am so excited for you guys especially you Dad for getting to have this experience, I'm so glad to hear that you’re loving the pageant and feeling the spirit through it. It changed my life...I probably wouldn't be on a mission now without the experiences I had through participating in the pageant. It made me realize just how much I love talking about the gospel and you get to feel the spirit of missionary work, it's so great! I wish I could be there to see it but just know that I'm thinking about you and praying for you to have missionary experiences. I'm also glad to hear that you enjoyed my last email and felt the spirit through it. My roommates story gives me courage to keep working hard every day and I feel even more blessed to have family back home that is supporting me and rooting for me in all that I do. That is one thing that right before I got set apart I felt really strongly. As everyone went around sharing their feelings of love and support for me I was overwhelmed with emotion because Heavenly Father has blessed me with such wonderful spirits in my life who have helped me learn and grow and become more like my Heavenly Father.

So things are going really well here. I absolutely love being a missionary and teaching lesson. I am getting over the culture change and just really starting to enjoy being here. Everyone here is so nice and welcoming. This was a great week for us as well, we got a lot of work done, we found 11 new investigators this week, we have 4 with baptismal dates, and we taught 47 lessons this week ha and WooHoo! We also had 5 investigators make it to church and 19 less actives they just all kept trickling into sacrament meeting and Sister Sabiano and I were getting so excited! It’s just really hard for these people to come to church. They have to pay for transportation and most of them can't afford it and that's why they don't come and then go inactive. It really shows an act of  faith on their part to come and it gives us a good feeling inside. One family that we teach is Maricris and Rafael. They have baptismal dates but they aren't married so we have had to push their date back and wait until they get married. They struggle with getting to church, but they were able to come yesterday and get interviewed by the bishop to sort out their marriage and set a date etc.. They are one of my favorite families! Sister Sabiano and I went to pick them up at 7:30am on Sunday and we helped get their kids ready for church they are the CUTEST! Their names are trixia-girl age 3, and Biero-boy age 1. I will get a picture with them sometime and send it to you they are adorable. But we picked them up and paid for them to get to church. I love teaching them they are so receptive to our message and they just soak it all up like a sponge. I love watching their faces as we teach because you can just tell that they feel the spirit and they know it's true. I am so excited for them to have this gospel because I know it will bless them and their little family. I'm starting to get to know all our investigators names and less actives which makes the work so much easier when I actually know who sister Sabiano is talking about and what we are teaching and where were going ha. Also the language is coming slowly but surely ha I just make sure I always no matter what, bare my testimony to them. We had a few investigators cry this week while we were teaching them and the spirit was so strong I'm so grateful to have experiences every day to see the gospel touch people’s lives.

 So funny story, here there are seriously no white people ha-ha, pretty much except for the missionaries. So I get stared at ALL the time by EVERYONE. People do double takes as I walk down the street and just stare as long as they can, All the little kids in the street just run up to me and just stare at me like they have never seen a white person before ha-ha, it's so funny and a lot of times awkward because even when we are teaching lessons all these kids will crowd in the doorway and just stare at me hah. They all ask me what my name is and if I’m American and they all point at my nose and stay stuff in Tagalog that I can’t understand. Sister Sabiano says they all say they like my nose and think I’m "cute", they say to me as I pass "cute mo! cute mo!" which means your cute lol. Everyone comments on my looks and whisper to each other about my skin cause Filipinos love white skin. In the stores they have all sorts of skin bleaching creams and stuff to lighten skin. I tell them that it's funny cause where I’m from everyone wants to be tan and go to tanning salons and lay out in the sun to get darker hah! They think I’m crazy ha. So as everyone stares at me I just wave and say “kumusta” and Sister Sabiano just laughs at me all the time. The food here is so good; I always try new things when I can. There is a lot of rice… A LOT but the street foods are fun to try. I haven't tried Balut yet but it is definitely on my list. It's everywhere here so I’m bound to try it soon. Sister Sabiano doesn't care for it much so we never buy it ha. I read and write my email at this internet cafe near our house. We just pay 30 pesos to use the computer for a few hours. Big news! It just got announced today that all missionaries around the world are now allowed to email friends. They are putting it in the new handbook and we get 2 hours of computer time every p-day, everyone was so excited haha. We just aren't allowed to email other missionaries in our area and we need permission from the president to email our recent converts. We get mail here every 2 weeks from the mission home, the office elders give it to us. So I can get dear elders through that as well. I haven't seen Sister Wilson since that one day that i wrote about in my last email but thank you for telling me about her email mom! I’m not allowed to email her cause she's in my mission sadly were waiting to hear what the president says on that cause it's up to him. But I will continue to pray for her. I don't know the crossroads exactly for our house we are in the Antipolo Cogeo area in gate 2. I love receiving the little updates from each of you, I'm excited for you Andelyn to get to go to prom again and have the dance concert, have so much fun and enjoy yourself! and Amelia I hope your enjoying school and I’m sorry I didn't reply to your letter i got it close to when I left and I didn't have time to write but just know that I love you and I appreciated your letter. Also Andelyn happy early birthday! We only send mail every two weeks and I came in right after the first week and if i sent a letter today it would get their way late so in my next email I’ll wish you happy birthday but it will be the night of your birthday. I love you all so much, please, please be safe and I am so proud of you all for being so wonderful! Mahal Ko Kayo!
Love Sister Jones


Sorry no pics again didn't have time to buy a card reader so maybe next time.

Also just FYI all our missions automatically get extended 2 weeks for the sisters because the day we leave falls in a weird place in between transfer days. So yep, 2 weeks extra Yay! . Ahh I'm dying right now it is so hot and humid here in the cafe ha-ha. Thank you for the video and picture they were perfect you should send more. I was excited to find out that it worked here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

1st letter from the Philippines

March 3

Kumusta family!!

Amelia HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! (a few days ago) I hope you had such a great day, I thought about you all day and prayed for you that you would enjoy your 13th birthday :) Hopefully you got my card in the mail too. I can't believe you’re a teenager now, that is crazy! I miss you all so much, especially when things here get tough I think about you all and it makes me want to cry. But I just try to push those feelings away and focus on the work.

Well I'm finally in the Philippines!!! ahh! It is really nothing like I expected HA. It’s definitely hot and VERY humid but I love the atmosphere. I'll try to remember from the beginning all my thoughts and feelings when I got here. Leaving the MTC was so hard :( Sister Wilson and I came down with all our luggage ready to leave and we opened the door and our sweet elders were all standing there singing God Be With You Till We Meet Again. AWE.. they are the cutest! They helped us with our luggage and walked us to the bus; we all said a prayer together before we got on. Sister Wilson and I started crying when we got on the bus! They all waited and waved till we were out of site, I am going to miss them all so so much. The flight to Tokyo was so LONG but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, I didn't sleep well so I just studied and read my scriptures. There were a lot of us traveling together, we all met in Tokyo and all together there were about 30 of us, all going to different places in the Philippines. 8 were going to Quezon City. We came in at about 9:30 am and we all got picked up from our different missions and we stayed in a hotel for that night. In the morning they took us to the mission home and we met President Delamare and his wife they are awesome I love them! I had an interview with him and he really is such a kind and strong leader. We get a new mission president in July so I won't have him too long unfortunately.

My new companions name is Sister Sabiano, she is 22 years old and she is Filipino, I can't pronounce the name or spell where she's from but just know she's full Filipino. She speaks pretty good English but she is more comfortable speaking Tagalog so she just always speaks it to me which is good because it will help me learn the language faster. I absolutely LOVE her. She is so patient with me during lessons and I have already learned  much from her. I am her first trainee; she has been out in the mission for 6 months. She is hilarious and we have a lot of fun together.

My area is called Cogeo. It is a province. Our mission consists of City land and Province. That’s probably why I was so shocked when I got here because I always thought I would be mostly in the city. I thought that was what Quezon City entailed but nooo… I am in a really poor area. We literally teach people in tiny little bamboo huts on the side of these mountains! Our apartment is actually in fairly good condition compared to the others, that’s what the other sisters have been telling me. We share it with another companionship Sister Taupale (Samoan) and Sister Fuertes (Filipino) they are also so cool and we all get along very well together. We travel to our areas and meet up for meals etc.. There is no shower ha-ha just a bucket, ladle and a drain. So that’s been something I have been getting used too. Also our toilet does not work we have to pour a bucket of water in it to flush. We don’t really have a lot of bugs thank goodness. We travel around by jeepney or tricycle, they are cheap and super fun ha-ha.  The language is Crazy! It is so fast and I have a hard time keeping up but I can already tell that I am getting better, I constantly learn new things every day and I just always try to talk in Tagalog so I incorporate the new things I learn and I remember them better that way. All the other missionaries always speak the language with each other too which is awesome, it helps me learn.

Sister Sabiano is a very hard worker and a great missionary, her testimony is so strong I feel really blessed to be her companion. I cried my third day here. The work is so much harder than I ever thought it would be. We go out proselyting by 1:30 and we don't stop till 8pm. We don't stop for dinner or anything, just keep walking and teaching lessons. My second day out we taught 9, 45 minute lessons which Sister Sabiano said was the most she has ever done in one day. I was EXHAUSTED. All these less actives and investigators we teach live on huge mountains and there are just clusters of little homes all over the place and we hike to each one. We alternate which area we will cover throughout the week, some areas are out in the rainforest in little bamboo huts, and then others are made out of cement and tin. All with dirt floors and no furniture so we just sit on the floor and teach our lessons. I have a hard time following during lessons, I don't know where to pick up when Sister Sabiano turns to me because I don't catch all that she says or the investigators, so that is the most frustrating thing. I cried on Friday after our 3 hour weekly planning session. We have SO many people to teach and I don't know or remember any of their names because they are all weird Filipino names and I was totally overwhelmed. It has been better the last few days though, I have been feeling comforted which I know is the lords doing, I cannot do this on my own but I know I can do it with the lords help.

Sister Sabiano told me about her family life and she said that her parents basically told her to not come back after her mission because they don't want a return missionary in their home. But every day she has a smile on her face and she is still a hard worker. She was converted 6 years ago along with her younger brother by missionaries. I admire her so much! And also our roommate sister Taupale, she is done in 3 months, but while she was in the MTC her mother got sick and within 2 weeks she died from cancer. Then two months later her father died. And she still decided to finish her mission. If these two Sisters can still go out and testify of this gospel after all of that and with no support system, and sacrifice 18 months of their lives for this work, how true must  this gospel and this work be. I love being here, it is going to be the hardest 18 months of my life but I can do it, I know how important this gospel is. I'm sure there will be more tears along the way but I am confident in knowing that I was sent here for a reason, and I cannot let a day go by where I don't try my hardest because I might miss the purpose for me being here.

We had the opportunity to host a temple tour on Saturday where we set up stations around the temple and other missionaries bring their investigators and go around to each station that talks about each ordinance that is performed in the temple. We had Baptisms for the dead, and it was so fun. I got to meet a lot of the missionaries in the area and I saw Sister Wilson! We ran to each other and hugged. I asked her how her first days went and she just looked at me and said "it's hard". I could just see it in her face that her first few days had not gone so well, I've been praying for her that she will feel comforted and that it will get better. I saw a few of the others that we traveled with and they all said the same thing” it's hard” and they all also cried their first days too ha-ha.

Sunday was awesome our ward is so great; it's small just about 40 people we have tons of less actives. But I love the bishop and the relief society president is so sweet. I am going to love this area! Also I love our district. There are 8 of us that cover the Cogeo area.

Today is p-day (Monday) so I will email around this time every day. We get to wash our laundry today (by hand) ha… so that should be fun!

Sorry this is insanely long! I tried to think of everything but I have more weekly emails to tell you more. I love you all sooo much, listen to the spirit and have so much fun doing the pageant I think about you every day.  Please don't worry about me; Sister Sabiano is taking care of me  :)
Mahal ko kayo!

Sister Jones