Monday, December 18, 2017

Meeerry Chreestmas to you!!!

We saw some miracles this week. We had an FHE with a less active member last week and it was a success. She came to church. Sister Helen. She is a single mother who feels so so alone and has 3 young kids with her husband abroad. She has been losing hope because she feels she's been abandoned. But she really felt love from the members and missionaries this week and her kids prayed and participated in family home evening for the first time in a long time. On the way home after FHE a woman on a motorcycle just stopped us on her way home. She didn't know why but she told us she felt something about missionaries and wanted to talk to us. We went to her home last Saturday and found that she is a very hardworking single mother with an adopted child that she rescued from an incredibly abusive family. When we shared why we were there and who we were and then asked her what she was looking for in her life, she started crying and talking about all she wants is a family. She grew up unloved and prevented from having an education and she has had to work for everything she has her whole life, with hope in Christ that things will be alright. Now she has a nice house that she designed and built herself, but she still recognized that she has a kulong, something lacking in her life. We told her that God sent us to her and to listen to what we told her and that we were representatives of Jesus Christ with the everlasting gospel, that she can have a forever family someday. I don't know if she understood everything we said but I truly do believe that God sent her to us to teach her.

Little miracles like that. We received a couple referrals this week which really told us that members are recognizing the blessings of the gospel and want to give it to their friends. We met one named Jesusa who is another mother who wants to know how to feel peace when she grew up in an abandoned and broken family. I'm so excited to teach her.

Nuevo Dumaging is still progressing. He hasn't missed sacrament meeting in over a month, but still needs more help in classes. But he told us that he felt love from the missionaries and happy in the church and has found power in the church and the Book of Mormon and true prayer that he is overcoming his old habits and becoming a new person. We expect that he will be baptized next month.

Sister Ballesteros and I are happy and well. We feel the happiness every time we teach, not because we are perfect teachers or perfect missionaries, but because we are trying to teach the love of Jesus Christ and the blessings of the restored gospel. You can't help but just love the people. And even though this week was crazy with talking to the mayor, and we didn't have that many lessons, God led us to a less active whose house was burned down and she realized she needed to come back to church. We couldn't teach many people but I'm grateful for the people we did teach. Little miracles.

Even a family that was less active that we saw for like 10 minutes came to church as a family -- a part member family. That was amazing too.

72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their might; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.

I for one know I want so desperately to be an effective missionary. This is the servant I want to be to fulfill this prophecy. To labor with all my might in Zion. To help and use all my time and talents to bring others to Christ for the rest of my life. That is my desire for my life. The first part of my mission in the MTC I thought of myself and since then I've been changing little by little. Now my desires are to be an effective planner and missionary, and bring people to Him. I see my mission as more than a year and a half.

People say that you serve for that long and then it's over. But I believe that missionary life is a training ground too, where I can convert myself and grow. I feel like I'm on an internship learning how to share the gospel. I believe that God called me forever and that after my mission my time will still be for the Lord and I want to spend my entire life in His service. I feel converted to Him despite weaknesses.

Jacob 5:75
And blessed art thou; for because ye have been diligent in laboring with me in my vineyard, and have kept my commandments, and have brought unto me again the natural fruit, that my vineyard is no more corrupted, and the bad is cast away, behold ye shall have joy with me because of the fruit of my vineyard.

In the Fourth missionary, Jesus says.
Give me all. I don't want so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work: I want You. All of you. I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man, but to kill it. No half-measures will do. I don't want to only prune a branch here and another there; rather I want the whole tree out. Hand it all over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them all over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will shall become your will. My heart shall become your heart.

I realized that we must turn everything over to him. And I am learning to do that. My heart is completely in this work of salvation. 100%. I want to spend the rest of my life bringing people to Christ and serving in my callings. Things will work out. I love missionary work with all my heart.

I may not have many talents in this work or reach everyone that I wish I could share to, but I CAN LOVE the people. I can surrender my heart to Christ, and not just work but work with my heart. When I am stressed about time and stressed about all the things I don't get done, I am not happy. But when I relax and love the people, even though I'm not the best, I'm truly happy because I see the miracles of God in my life. I feel less stressed I just cheerfully do what I can and trust in God.

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Cultural Note
Little kids make bells out of bottle caps strung on wire and they go from house to house singing carols. The Filipino accent is ADORABLE and sounds more like we weeesh you a merry chreeeeestmas. It's adorable. 

Sister Porter

Monday, December 11, 2017

Good morning po!

This week was a little crazy as far as the schedule goes, but miracles still happened and it was a privilege to see it.

I got the best birthday present in the whole wide world last Tuesday. We went to Brother Wally and had a simple lesson about serving in the Lord's kingdom and that the Lord calls you to serve. We then extended him the opportunity to baptize Brother Zaldy on Saturday. Not only did he accept it, but even though he is a super sweet and shy young man, he wasn't even nervous! He was so excited to serve! He practiced that whole week and memorized what he had to say, then he sacrificed his work to come to the baptism. He performed the baptism perfectly with such faith and purity that I was completely overwhelmed with joy that I jumped up and down like a little kid. He got in trouble with his boss later for sacrificing his time to come, but this young man is so blessed and will become a wonderful member of the church. I've never felt so much Christlike love. The thing is we didn't do anything -- his conversion was just him, the Spirit, and a supportive family of his girlfriend. We just got to witness the change as he accepted Jesus Christ in his life. I just got a front row seat. That's all.

Christmas Conference was nice because I remembered my passion for sports. Volleyball and all the other sports are truly one of the deepest passions I have.

I'm so proud that we found some great new investigators and are trying to talk to as many people as we can and give them the gift of the Book of Mormon. Many of the people we met have become great investigators and are soon to become so. One is an old man named Arnold that is searching for something missing in the life of his wonderful family. Another is a family of 5 -- the Estebillo family -- to whom we taught the Restoration and touched the hearts of the father and the oldest son. We aren't perfect teachers -- I know that -- but they started reading the Book of Mormon and are now truly investigating the truth of our message. Because of their true intent, I have 100% faith that they will find it. I don't know if I'll get to see them baptized but I know they will.

Sister Porter

Monday, December 4, 2017

Maligayang Bali! I am 21 everyone!

Well, I've definitely learned a lesson this week about trials. It's really hard to explain but I think what I experienced is exactly what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland explained in his talk "The Atonement and the Missionary." This week we had to drop a long-term investigator, were wandering around Gusing Sur with no one to teach, and were overwhelmed by the work ahead of us on finding new investigators and reactivating members and recent converts. But what really hit me was a wave a depression and anxiety -- it felt like a tidal wave that knocked me over. Like a 100-pound weight that crushed my head every morning and made it hard to even function in the morning. I couldn't escape it in studies, in sleep. I could barely read. The only thing I could do was work -- we went out every day -- sometimes more than was required. It was the only thing that could help me forget some pain. It was such a painful experience that I felt completely out of control of it. I felt so alone. I was scared of what was going to happen to me -- I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do --  why this was happening to me when I was trying so hard. Why I was feeling like a failure, not effective, when I was trying to be obedient and serve others. It was Saturday morning that I was in the most pain. But I amazed myself by what I told my companion in my moment of anguish -- that I knew that the Savior was there for me. That I would never give up. That I would always be loyal to my Savior and my Redeemer.

Sunday came. When I took the bread and the water during the sacrament, I felt a burden lift from my shoulders -- I felt it. Christ took my pain. He took it from me. It was one of the most tangible feelings I have ever had during the sacrament of the Atonement. For this reason I want to bear my testimony of the Atonement -- that Jesus Christ suffered the pains of every single one of God's children in the most intimate and individual way that he knows our pains so perfectly and exquisitely. I was so overwhelmingly happy the rest of church -- maybe too happy, I just couldn't stop laughing.

After that experience I got to talk to one of the most amazing missionaries that I know -- Sister Aldred. She is absolutely incredible, has gone through so much in her life and in her mission, and for that reason is so in tune with the Spirit and miracles are happening in Naguilian, as stressful as it is. She has been an incredible source of strength for me, a true friend, and a confidant. As I explained what happened on Saturday, she and I realized that we are disciples of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We have been called of him to declare His word among His people that they might have everlasting life. There is no greater calling in this world. But it comes with a price. Salvation isn't cheap. Satan attacks when he knows that salvation is coming to the children of men. Paul had a thorn in his flesh. Joseph Smith was attacked before he had the First Vision. For this reason every disciple of Jesus Christ must experience pain and anguish too -- their own kind of Gethsemane. Not anything like Christ -- because he is our God and we are weak mortals. But every disciple must have trials and opposition. And I realized that maybe I too must suffer for the work of Christ.

And miracles are happening in Naguilian. We have had Brother Mendoza come into the church on his own because of the Book of Mormon project and he is getting baptized on December 23rd. He is being taught by the other sisters. Brother Zaldy is ready to be baptized this Saturday -- taught by the sisters. We have seen the boyfriend of Sister Julia Baybay become converted by going to the devotional and now is being taught to be baptized December 23rd. And we have seen the change of a man named Brother Nuevo because of the Book of Mormon. We have had such powerful lessons with him and he has felt the Spirit strongly at church and especially by reading the Book of Mormon that he can't stop reading it. He is always reading it always and is finding strength from Jesus Christ to stop his old bad habits. He is feeling the weight-lifting feeling of repentance and change in his life. His countenance is changing. His repentance has led him to a desire to be baptized even though he doesn't know all things. He is preparing now to be baptized. We feel such a privilege to teach him.

It was incredible to receive a call from President that Brother Abat is being baptized. The whole family that I love with all my heart in Lingsat. Another step towards being an eternal family.

Brother Wally is the best recent convert ever. He is changing so much. He came to church with slacks, a polo, shoes, and a tie. He's never done that in his life. He is taking having the Priesthood so seriously that he was offered a calling this week and I think he will be sustained in the next couple of weeks. And the members want him to be the one to baptize Brother Zaldy on Saturday -- we are going to ask him tonight or tomorrow. I yelled and jumped up and down I was so excited. I know Brother Wally is going to be super nervous -- but he is worthy and one of the best kids I have ever met. Everyone knows him as such a sweet and wonderful young man. I'm so excited for his future.

So although it is hard sometimes to know where to go, who to teach, and to experience pain and suffering. Even though we aren't perfect missionaries and make mistakes, even though I know my efforts were not much -- God magnified them and miracles do happen.

I loved going to the Aringay Polynesian devotional on Friday. It was so exciting and we loved it. It made me wish I could sing or dance or had talents like that, but I am going to trust my Heavenly Father and hope that He will help me in the language and other talents in my future. I've had to sacrifice ALL of my old desires, talents, appearance, and other things for this work. And this work is changing me to want to serve others and think of others first always, that when we are called as disciples of Jesus Christ, he called us to leave our nets and become like Him forever. There are so many things I want to learn -- about everything -- and I hope that someday I can learn these things. I sometimes have to cling on to the hope that I have that potential and He will help me reach it -- as a child of God -- and that I have enormous potential -- instead of falling into fears of hopelessness or worthlessness.

I know that I'm not a perfect missionary -- but I haven't been defeated and I know that Christ will sustain me and never ever let me be defeated. I've learned that from my family and other amazing missionaries and investigators. I've seen the effects of the Atonement in the lives of others and myself. There are more hard times ahead, but I have to trust that things will work out according to the One who knows all things and has a perfect plan for us. What a blessing in my life to share this hope with others who have none.

Sister Porter

The Atonement and the Missionary

Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?

I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.

For that reason I don’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.

If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,” 11 then little wonder that salvation is not an easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way.

When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

I testify that the living God is our Eternal Father and that Jesus Christ is His living and Only Begotten Son in the flesh. I testify that this Jesus, who was slain and hanged on a tree, 12 lives. The whole triumph of the gospel is that He lives, and because He does, so will we.

On that first Resurrection Sunday, Mary Magdalene first thought she saw a gardener. Well, she did—the Gardener who cultivated Eden and who endured Gethsemane. The Gardener who gave us the tree of life.

I declare Him to be the Savior of the world. I know that we are lifted up unto life because He was lifted up unto death. I bear witness that He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, that He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief because upon Him were laid the transgressions of us all. 13

I bear witness that He came from God as a God to bind up the brokenhearted, to dry the tears from every eye, to proclaim liberty to the captive and open the prison doors to them that are bound. 14 I promise that because of your faithful response to the call to spread the gospel, He will bind up your broken hearts, dry your tears, and set you and your families free. That is my missionary promise to you and your missionary message to the world.

October 2001 Liahona

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hello from Sister Porter

This week we found ways to serve a couple members in their yards. We had some powerful lessons with our investigators. One was with Dengerald, a 17 year old boy that really wanted to be baptized before but his mother is strictly against it. Ever since he hasn't been regular to church. We taught him a powerful lesson about trials, about darkness that comes before the light just like Joseph Smith, that Satan knows and repeatedly tries to hedge our way from doing the things that matter most. It was powerful, and even though Dengerald didn't go to church we know he still has it in his heart and we told him that someday he can become a great missionary.

We've been visiting a 15-year old recent convert lately named Rhenier. He is absolutely incredible. He heard of the Book of Mormon from his aunt and felt a strange desire to read it. He asked for one from his classmate that he knew was Mormon. He started reading at his house the Introduction, and then decided to ask God if it was true. He was scared to pray at first, he had never prayed with real intent before -- he was used to memorized prayers from his religion. As he prayed the room grew quiet and the Book of Mormon grew hot in his hands, then the feeling went straight to his heart. He was so shocked. He told his family but they told him he was going crazy. But he knew, without a doubt in his mind, that the Book of Mormon was true. He came to church and was baptized fast. Ever since, he told us, he has shared the Book of Mormon with EVERYONE he knows -- all his classmates, all his friends, at school, at home, everywhere. He's been persecuted too -- his grandparents don't believe it and his parents aren't with him anymore -- one died when he was little. He had a dream that he was to become a missionary someday that he was to receive a call letter. He worked with us this week along with some other young adults and testified to the people we met. He wants to work with us every week now. He is living evidence to me that the Lord does his own work. Rhenier is a special kid and his story fills me with faith in the Lord.

We decided to fast this week for investigators to come to church and it worked! We had two part member families come to church for the first time so hopefully we can start teaching them. Emilia Rosario came to church. We are having a hard time with her because she really wants to be baptized and has come to church for a while now but she is still not converted and says she doesn't know if the church is true even though she has felt it in her heart. We had a powerful lesson with her but she still needs some help but we are shooting for December. Nuevo Dumaging came to church for the first time too -- we had a powerful lesson with him too about finding answers, and acting. He is searching for the truth because he hasn't found it in other churches that he has visited. We believe he can make it and be baptized in December too.

Angelitio De Leon who was baptized in October is having a hard time and needs reactivating of his family. But he is strong in his knowledge and belief in the Book of Mormon. We are going to work on that. Wally Licuanan is doing good -- he was ordained a priest yesterday and spent some time with the YSA's so hopefully that will give him some fellowship.

Cultural note: Investigators are loving giving us the fruit of the season -- PAPAYA and SUHA. It's super delicious and our desserts all the time.

Filipinos love to tell jokes -- the cheesier the better. Often playing on words. If you ask someone how they are doing -- instead of mabuti (which means good) you can say mabeauty (play on english beautiful)

Love you all!!!!!

Sister Porter

Monday, November 20, 2017

One Soul Unto Me

We kind of had a rollercoaster week. The ups were the best, and the downs were hard too. But on weeks like this we know we have to press forward and not give up because Jesus Christ is perfect even though we aren't.

I also believe that Heavenly Father doesn't want us to feel discouraged so we will continue to believe in the power and perfection of Jesus Christ. The things that I might be able to do might be small and seemingly insignificant because of my capabilities, but I know that the grace of Jesus Christ can give us power to do good works that we otherwise would not be able to maintain or do. As much as I wish to understand everything, I know that God has a perfect plan. I try to live the commandments, I never EVER go without a day without the Book of Mormon and sincere prayer -- I tell Him everything on my mind. I know that when we feel this way that it means that if we press forward and take a step in what seems like darkness in faith in Jesus Christ that things will work out. I know that this is His work -- even though sometimes we feel like we live in a world of confusion because of human agency.

This week also had one of the happiest day of my mission. Seeing Brother Wally baptized was probably one of the biggest outpouring of love I have ever felt. Seeing him so happy and his girlfriend happy filled us with so much joy. When he took that step of faith and was baptized, and then bore a simple and absolutely beautiful testimony about Prophet Thomas S Monson, Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ, the feelings of repentance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the feelings of his heart, the Book of Mormon, we were overjoyed. He was so grateful and so happy. He bore a sweet testimony in Priesthood meeting too. We gave him a picture of the temple and told him that that should become his goal. He is taking the priesthood seriously and is studying everything he can about it. The only thing that concerns us is that he is shy, so we are going to keep trying to get him connected with the young single adults. But one thing I know -- that to see such a humble seeker of happiness start on the path to eternal life -- when he makes it to the temple and endures to the end I know I will feel a fullness of joy. Not because it was because of me. To be honest all we did was come to his house regularly, teach him, and give him reading assignments, and care about him. That's it. He and the Spirit and the member family that fellowships him did the rest -- almost everything. It has been a privilege to see the work of salvation happen in a young man with so much potential. He even introduced us to his family this week. They were a little apprehensive but are very proud of their son and who he has become in just a couple months.

Our other investigators are having a lot of personal struggles and are not so easy. We've been looking for more people to teach. We found one sweet family -- but we aren't sure yet their interest in the gospel. But we know it will change their lives as a family. We found them through the Book of Mormon project and looking up their name again on our list of names.

Hmmm... Anything else? New food... I am trying to learn to cook more Filipino hahaha. I'm getting into Filipino veggies -- sitaw, talong, ampalaya, calabasa. I'm not much of a cook but we get along hahahaha. Also, our branch mission leader had a great FHE at his house -- we love the Javiers, they take care of us hahaha--- we eat crabs and other Ilokano dishes. It's suha season and the fruit is soo good this time of year. I love it.

Culture -- haha sometimes I forget what is different about culture here and there in America -- We don't have Thanksgiving if you're wondering. But Christmas is coming and Filipinos love Christmas!

Sister Porter

Monday, November 13, 2017

Halfway through training

Magandang umaga po

This week was a little bit of a down week on stats but we are definitely trying new things. We are writing a proposal letter here in the computer shop to send to the Baranggay captains about film showings of Finding Faith in Christ to brighten up the Christmas spirit here in Naguilian. We are thinking about doing it in Naguilian High too.

Our door to door knocking this week was a little hard because we weren't received too well. Sometimes we felt like we didn't know what to say or stumbled on our words or felt a little lost. But it increased our commitment to really listen to the Spirit and he really will direct us where to go. We have to trust Him because it is His work and not ours. He knows who is prepared. Hundreds and thousands of people can learn the truth through our efforts if we have faith-- do good works, repent, and pray continually without ceasing. I know that my heart has been purified during my mission! I will continue to hope and pray and keep getting up even after I fall, as a companionship pray for the faith that the Lord will guide us if we don't doubt Him. Doubt leads to fear or holding back, which is not something I ever want to fall victim to. There have been a lot of miracles in Naguilian this week -- tons of people came to church this week.

Wally Licuanan had his baptismal interview yesterday. He really wants to be baptized this upcoming Saturday. We were amazed by his humility and sure testimony that he found Jesus Christ in this church and it was the true church on the earth. Over the course of a little over a month, his girlfriend Jennifer testified to us that sobrang nabago ang ugali niya. He testifies to her and her family of the church. He writes in his journal and finishes all the Book of Mormon chapters we give him. He listens with his whole heart and believes. He was so prepared and accepted everything we taught him. It increased our faith that as missionaries we seriously just teach the truths and study them but really all we do is find and teach. The Spirit really does everything. Wally's heart was so prepared and we are excited to see him go to the temple someday and be married for time and all eternity. Wally's experience increased my faith of the importance of referrals from members, and that truly there are people prepared for the gospel and we just have to pray and be willing to act on the Lord's promptings of where to go. We have to open our mouths and act in faith. He places people in our path.

I know that always my efforts are not enough. I always fall short in my efforts. But there is nothing more compelling than missionary work and I never want to give up even though I fall short. I have to keep pleading for courage, forgiveness, and hope when sometimes I feel inadequate or lost or alone. Because I believe I'm not. I have a wonderful companion too that stands beside me no matter what and we support each other. We love to see other people happy and that's what makes us happy. Sometimes we get stressed about the people we meet and how to help them and that's what stresses us out. I never want to be accountable for the failure of bringing someone to the truth that sometimes it stresses me out. I stumble over my words or am kinda awkward and sometimes don't know what to say.

We taught Sister Joanne Guerrero again this week. She is SURROUNDED by super faithful Latter-day Saints that are converted to the gospel, and she is a member of a Baptist church that has a lot of the same beliefs that Latter-day Saints do .We shared the Restoration, but what she really has to do is read the Book of Mormon. I think that is probably the only thing we can help her do. We can't force it but let the Spirit work with her over time.  We will not doubt, because God will make all commandments possible!!

Cultural Notes: I'm trying more vegetables this week. Trying to learn how to cook better haha. I don't know a lot of Filipino cooking. But I bought eggplants, and ampalaya, and stuff. This month is the season for SUHA -- it kinda tastes like grapefrusti but it's really big. People just give it to you if you ask. That's Filipino culture. They love to share everything they have.

Tagalog word of the Day: Pangangailangan -- it means the needs (like the needs of others)

Alma 58
11 Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, in so much that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.

12 And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty.

Love you all,
Sister Porter

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Pasko na!!

We learned a lot this week of course. I had a great week studying. Studying has become my anchor to everything I do. I think I could practice more studying specific questions for my investigators -- but I have learned how to gain personal revelation in all my studies -- especially personal study. I studied a lot about Joseph Smith, conversion to the gospel and feeling it from the Holy Ghost, Revelation through Prayer, and trying to find answers to my questions. As a result, I learned so so much and couldn't constrain my testimony during fast and testimony meeting that I know without a doubt in my mind that Joseph Smith and Thomas S Monson are prophets and this is the true and only true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the earth. Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life and I feel so blessed to see people finding the gospel in their lives. It truly is what changes lives and hearts.

Wally Licuanan is getting ready for baptism in the next couple weeks. He has been fellowshipped so well by a family in Bauang, the family of his girlfriend, and we are trying to get him involved with the single adults -- we have some really great single adults in this branch. He has been reading the Book of Mormon little by little and writing about it in a notebook and really believes that this church is true. He has felt the Holy Ghost. He's still trying to be sure that Joseph Smith is a prophet and we have to finish the rest of the lessons but he is progressing so well. He doesn't have a lot of support from his family but he is truly looking for peace and happiness that he sees in the Saints.

Jerome Bautista needs some more help because of the influences around him. He doesn't have a lot of support from his family. But The Book of Mormon he reads every day and Jesus Christ is becoming his anchor. Whenever he is sad or angry or makes a mistake, he says he goes to his room and cries to the Lord and receives forgiveness and his heart is changing. How incredible is the power of the Atonement. Jerome exercised faith to be healed of sickness only a couple weeks ago. That is true faith. He still needs some help staying away from bad influences and finding support in the church. He hasn't gone to church in a couple of weeks because of his Baranggay job. But his progress is astounding and truly the power of Christ. He wants to be regular in church and seminary so we will really focus on that with him this week.

We found some investigators this week seeking for the truth and asking us incredible questions. One was a referral from President Baybay -- Sister Joanne. She leads another church but there are SO many powerful Mormon influences in her life that what they said impacted her heart about the Spirit and she wrote down what she says and feels strangely drawn to the Book of Mormon. She believes a lot of the same things that Mormons believe, but this week we are going to focus on priesthood authority and the Restoration. They are a wonderful God-fearing family and know that God is working in their lives. It was actually an insane lesson this week because her questions are so so deep and we had to answer calmly and clearly from the scriptures. It was a little scary but we truly do believe that the Lord made everything work out. She was deeply pierced in her heart by temples and being sealed and that it was the only way to be married in heaven.

We did a Book of Mormon project at the palengke in Ortiz on Friday morning. We talked to tons of people and asked them to read pages of the Book of Mormon and what they liked about Jesus Christ. Some were truly touched and interested; others not so much. But we have some names to truly look for this week and follow up on.

Sister Ballesteros is doing great. She is becoming more involved in all the planning and our transitions are exactly 50-50 when we teach. We listen to each other's opinions and are strengthened by each other. 100% her heart is in the work and with her investigators. We also made a companionship language study plan that is helping us both improve our language. We get along great. We aren't perfect, but we love each other and love the work!

Cultural Notes:

The day of the dead was super interesting to me although we didn't go to the sementaryo, we were out proselyting. But everyone goes to the cemetery and stays with their ancestors. They bring candles to their doorsteps and have them going all night so that the dead can visit their house. I'm sure it has some Spanish root in it because the Spanish occupied the Philippines for a long time.

People love it when foreigners speak Tagalog. They absolutely love it. They love to see us trying even though we aren't perfect. One man came up to me and just said Thank you for speaking our language. People wave at you wherever you go. People here are literally the sweetest.

Sister Ballesteros told me this week that she doesn't feel like she talks to a foreigner. Even though my Tagalog is not perfect, she says my inner personality is literally Pilipina/ pinay and I think it is so true. I seriously couldn't fit in more with a culture in my opinion. I tend to be a shy, but laughing and sensitive person and so are they.

I hope you all know how much I love you!!!!!!!!!!

Sister Porter

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Magandang umaga po.

Another interesting week for sure. A lot happened and we are grateful that we have seen the Lord's hand in our lives. I think this week has been a little bit of a refiner's fire. I am learning even more just what it means to just do what the Lord wants and not what I think is best. I think our companionship has been strengthened for it -- learning to confide in each other and just trust each other in every lesson and in all we do.  It really helped me realize that we desperately need the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Through the Atonement of Christ, He can fix everything and the work is heading in a new direction here. It's a little stressful when there's a lot to do and little time to do it but I'm grateful for a loving and patient companion.

We are really trying to help President Baybay who has a ton on his plate. He was so happy yesterday when we told him we would do everything we could to help and we spent some time on the computer trying to make maps to locate members. The whole plan is to help map members and find part member families and new investigators in the process that we can bring to church. We felt excitement and peace feeling like we were trying to do what the Lord wants us to do by listening to His servants. Of course this is not going to be easy. We are focusing on baranggays at a time, but we are going to trust that God will help us.

Seriously it strengthened my resolve that for the rest of my life I will seek to help my bishop in anything he needs. Including my wonderful father!

Sister Vilma Gonzalez passed away this week, the member with diabetes that we found on her deathbed last Sunday. We are so grateful that we found her and were led by the Spirit to Sitio Apit Liaoc Sur that day. Her funeral service was this morning and we got to sing there. We did CSP and helped with some yard work at the home of her family. Brother Gonzalez was so grateful for the kindness. He even came to church for the first time in probably years. Christlike love works miracles. It was really the love of the members that made everything happen after we found them.

On happier note, Angelito De Lion's baptism was a success. He is living evidence of the power of the Book of Mormon. He loves to read the Bible. He was a former investigator who didn't recognize the truth the first time the missionaries visited him, but they left him a Book of Mormon. As soon as he began a serious study of the Book of Mormon, however, he quickly recognized that it was coming from God. He loves every chapter he reads, and studies diligently. He came to church on his own by asking his member friends, and that's when the missionaries started to teach him. He was baptized only a month and a half later. Because of the Book of Mormon, he says, he believes everything else, that it is the true church and Joseph Smith was a prophet and that we have living prophets today. The Book of Mormon truly is "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." As we study the Book of Mormon diligently, the Spirit will testify to us that it is true and a power will flow into our lives. As missionaries we will teach with power and authority and with the Spirit if we teach from the Book of Mormon. He's a little shy though so we are hoping that someday his wife will start coming back to church and we can help him meet more members.

Cultural Notes: Lechons are whole roasted pigs. They are expensive but I got to taste my first one at zone conference.
We don't have Halloween here we have All-Saints Day where everyone stays at the cemetery for the night and remembers their family members who have passed. Funerals here are different from the United States.

Word of the Day: pinaaalaalahanan -- basically it means to remind someone.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Naimbag nga malum!

Naguillian is the PRETTIEST area and the area I have been wishing for my whole mission. Lots of rice fields and farmers and people here are very poor but the nicest people I have met in my whole life. They share everything they have. Our leaders in Naguillian are wonderful. One of them reminds me of the Pilipina Jenay Hopkins. Sister Josie Manalo. She's like the missionary mom daw.

As far as training goes, it's going just fine. From the get go we have been equal companions because it just doesn't work any other way. We are learning tons from the training program and we aren't perfect though but we keep trying at least. I'm very well aware that I'm not the most qualified missionary for the job but we are enjoying Naguillian, even though it's hard to know how to help investigators sometimes. The only thing we know how to do sometimes is just be there for them and teach the lessons according to their needs. That's our job anyway.

This week I tried isaw from a member.  It’s a street food and I don’t usually eat it but I trusted the member’s food haha and I had it. It’s barbequed chicken intestine on a stick.  I am pretty proud of myself haha.  Next is balot (fermented duck eggs)!  Sister Ballesteros loves my omelets and rice:) I experiment sometimes and make a pasta that you used to make back home with macaroni and cheese and beans and ground beef. But of course I make it Philippines style.  People pretty much eat rice here and if they have money to add ulam onto it like meat or vegetables or anything fried.

We had some really interesting experiences this week. We helped people with their palay!  Right now is the season for harvesting palay -- rice that hasn't been shelled yet. We helped an old lady gather the palay that they lay to dry on the sheets and ended up giving her a Book of Mormon. She was super cool because she lived in China for 20 years and remembered missionaries there that were offering to teach her English. Her name is Clarita Micua. I've been wanting to do that forever so I was really excited to help!!

We also sat with a less active family last night -- Vilma Gonzalez is dying from cancer and diabetes and she hasn't eaten in three days or even spoken. It reminded me of the miracles that Jesus did to people suffering like that so we taught a lesson from Mosiah 3. President Baybay came and gave her a blessing, and we are waiting to see what happens. According to faith and the will of the Lord but I believe 100% in the power of God and in miracles.

We had a great zone conference this week.  It helped me realize that sometimes the hard feelings of disappointment are actually a very real and necessary part of life. But there are really two ways you can respond to those disappointments. You can act with faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and then improve every day, or you can get discouraged and eventually give up. Discouragement is a waning of faith, and no matter how hard things can get we must hold tight to the faith that God fulfills all his promises and the only failure is to stop trying and stop repenting. I love that so much, and already that doctrine of the gospel is changing my entire outlook on life.

Alma 26
22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.

I have no doubt in my mind that if you do those things that 1000s of souls can be brought to repentance if we are truly converted to the gospel. We have to keep trying different finding tools, or improve ang sarili natin, but I believe that. It took 14 years for Ammon and the sons of Mosiah to teach the Lamanites, and sometimes we have to be patient. But I know that there are so many souls out there that need us so so much and in this area I've never been so encouraged that there are people ready for the gospel. And almost all of the success I have seen is humble youth.

One of the most prepared youth I have met on my mission is Wally Licuanan. From our very first meeting with him his countenance was enough for us to realize the Spirit of the Lord was working with him. He listens intently to everything we say. Our first meeting he said that even though it was really hard to get work off that he would immediately talk to his boss about getting to church. And he was true to his word. We love to teach him. We are teaching him at a less active member's house and hopefully this week his girlfriend will be able to join us and some other SA members in the ward. He's so so good -- basically all who know him tell us that wala siyang vices, he was no particle of bad in him. We love him so much.

Jerome Bautista is doing good as well. Aljean Garcia and Jerome Bautista love it when we come and teach them. Jerome Bautista has had a hard life, but you could just see how much he is looking for the truth and how to change his life. He brings the Book of Mormon with him EVERYWHERE -- at school, when he wakes up, at work, before he goes to bed. He is still a little nervous to pray because before this he has never prayed in his life. He is truly a humble seeker of truth and for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and we are so blessed to be able to teach him. Over time we are sure that with the Lord's help he can overcome all his hardships and will become a strong member of the church and even serve a mission. He's only 18!

Sister Ballesteros is an amazing companion and I couldn't be more blessed. She loves to serve and love others including me. She is so understanding, diligent to the Lord, and positive. She sees the good in everyone and has helped me to pray for charity so I can always do the same.

Sister Porter

Monday, October 16, 2017

Finally assigned in the BUKID!  Rice Fields!

Today was an interesting week. It was full of both learning experiences and miracles. We are learning a ton here in Naguilian and excited to press forward and see the changes and miracles that will happen in the next few months.

This week was my first sacrament meeting in Naguilian, which was really really helpful to get to learn the names of members and now we have names that are willing to work with us and show us all the areas that we still don't really know. Working with members, I am realizing, will really be one of the most effective ways to strengthen this ward. Finding less active and part member families, strengthening the testimonies of active members, preparing young men and young women and fellowshippers. I know that things are super bigla, but over time I know miracles will happen. We worked with sister Rea yesterday and I think it really strengthened her own committment to serve as a visiting teacher, remember why she was baptized, and why we need the Restoration. I have seen that every time that we teach the Restoration, even if others don't receive the message, that over time we as teachers become more converted to the gospel. Truly I am seeing that even though I am realizing more and more my own faults and weaknesses, that on the other hand I have found myself more converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and for me, missionary work is what I wish I could do as a full time job for the rest of my life.

That doesn't mean everything is perfect. I am the first to confess my weaknesses and sins. I feel like Nephi often -- I am easily beset by weaknesses. But I pray every time I feel like I'm not doing something Christlike or I need guidance and He always gives me strength to overcome those feelings. I know in whom I have trusted. I don't understand everything in the past, present, or future, but I do know that God knows the desires of our hearts, and is willing to change us if we give our will to him. I read the Fourth missionary again before I went to bed the other night, and felt a renewed desire to give everything to the Lord -- all personal affairs. Box them up and pack them up. I know that even though I have had so so much to learn and starting to realize that especially at the beginning of the mission that I was a really really rough diamond that needs polishing and refinement. I am really really grateful to my old companions who helped me. I am really grateful to my companion now who helps me be a better more Christlike person every day. She is such a loving person and patient with everyone, always excited for the next adventure and next lesson. Her best quality is that she sees every single person as a son or daughter of God with the potential to become like Him -- every person needs love and someone to support and encourage them on the path back to our Heavenly Father.

We have some really really solid investigators. Aljean Garcia is the son of a less active member and was excited to meet us the day we found his house. It was really sweet. He feels attracted to the church and he is only 14 years old. He came to general conference and didn't come to church this week because he got sick. We are planning to get him some young men friends and try to get him to seminary. I think seminary will help him become solid in the gospel of Jesus Christ. From the moment we met him he wanted to be baptized. Our goals for him are to help him become an involved member and to help him nurture his testimony. He doesn't really know how to read so we are planning to start to help him learn how to read. He will be baptized at the end of November -- November 18th is our goal.

Jerome Bautista is the pamankin of another less active family right next to Islander Antonio -- a young man very prepared to go on his mission soon. He is fellowshipping Jerome and Aljean and lending them ties to come to church. We teach them both at the Antonios house. Jerome is a very good young man. He's 18 and was so excited to be taught by the missionaries. He is shy but listens to every word that comes out of our mouth -- even if I say trumpet in Tagalog on accident instead of a whistle for an object lesson. He opened up to us that he has things weighing on his mind and has a true desire to change his life. He is such a special young man -- truly humbled with a broken heart and contrite spirit. We are so excited to see the joy of the Atonement work on him. Our focus with him is to help him have support and come to seminary too.

Angelito Deleon has wanted to be baptized this month, but we moved the date to October 28th so he was for sure done with all the lessons, are planning to get the elders quorum involved, and to make it a special day for him. Our focus with him this week is the Book of Mormon -- really understanding why this is the true church on Earth. His son wants to learn piano, so we are trying to start some piano lessons with him. Rangelo is his son and is 10 years old and is a candidate for baptism as well in the coming months.

Emilia Rosario is getting there as well. She has a lot of member friends on her street. The relief society members all are excited for her baptism on November 4. She feels the Holy Ghost testify to her when she prays with real intent, when she comes to church, and when she reads the Book of Mormon. She still needs a better understanding of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon, and she hasn't been able to come to church because Bauang has been far for her knee -- it's been operated on multiple times and when she falls, sometimes she can't get up.

Those are our solid investigators, and we are sure that if we use the help of the members there will be many more part member families that we can teach. I have had to learn that missionaries have to work smart and do our best to strengthen the ward. I've had to learn patience. If I had my way, I would like to work all day and all night, but often there are things out of my control.

 I'm not a perfect missionary, but I will get up every time I make a mistake and I know that Christ will refine me and shape me into the person I need to be. We will never lose faith that there are people ready for the gospel, even though life is messy and we just do not see how things work out sometimes. We know in whom we have trusted, and miracles happen when we have faith. I hope to deepen my understanding of Jesus Christ and of faith this week. 

Love you all,
Sister Porter

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hello from Naguilian

I feel that this week was really a success. I have truly been blessed with seeing God's guiding hand in my life and I have seen my heart change more than maybe any other time in my whole mission so far. I feel more converted to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than any other time before. I just can't even believe what my Savior has done for me and how aware He is of what I need and how I feel at all times.  I believe I was sent here with Sister Ballesteros. Seriously, I know He sent her to me for a reason. I have seen power in my life that has helped me fulfill my calling that I have never had before. It doesn't mean I've been perfect; I have had to learn a lot. But I've seen myself change more than ever before. I'm very very optimistic about training and the future of Naguilian Branch and the people in it.

This week I've had to learn humility. I know that there are many things I still have to learn, to take correcting counsel, to recognize that the Lord has the perfect plan and that I just need to trust Him no matter what happens, and to just love people and see beyond what I see on the outside. That has helped me so much with my relationships with my companion, other missionaries, members, and investigators. That there are things we cannot see and it's so important to pray for the gift of discernment and practice inspired questions, listening and trying to understand their point of view and the struggles they have in their hearts. Every person has those kind of struggles with understanding their identity and purpose of trials and finding purpose in their life. It has helped me look at people with so much more charity. Sometimes I've felt frustrated or hurt or misunderstood, but when I prayed for Heavenly Father and told him the feelings of my heart, those feelings leave me and I can go and try to understand others or have the humility to confess my faults or mistakes, or to try to make decisions based on the needs of others.

I believe with all my heart that Heavenly Father sent my companion to me because I need to just LOVE her. We need each other to learn and grow, and I've seen so much improvement in our How to Begin Teaching and Teach People Not Lessons. We were trying to visit an investigator the other day and he wasn't there so we happened upon a member who invited us in to get to know her. Within 10 minutes she was crying about how she was left to take care of her 2, 6, and 8 year old children while her husband has been working in Saudi Arabia for 2 years to bring money home. She felt that her efforts were not good enough for God and she made mistakes. We were able to testify to her that God sent us to her at that time exactly to share with her the message that Jeffrey R Holland taught about perfection and relying on Christ. We testified to her of the power of the Book of Mormon in her life. We tried to be really cheerful and sing hymns as we tried to explore our area and find investigators. We tried to focus on their lives and show them how the gospel would change their lives and be relevant to them.

We found some teenagers this week with enormous potential. They will be baptized someday in the Lord's timing. Jerome is a friend of Islander Antonio, a 19 year old getting ready to serve his mission. We met Jerome for 20 minutes Saturday Night and offered to teach him later tonight and invited him to General Conference. Saturday morning we found him wearing one of Islander's ties for the first time in his life and listening to General Conference. Truly the Lord is pouring out His Spirit on the rising generation -- I believe this generation is truly a chosen generation as most of the progressing investigators I have met are teenagers or young adults searching for the truth and meaning in their lives. We received a referral yesterday in Lioac Sur -- his name is Wally Lacuanan and he is the 21 year old boyfriend of a member in Bauang. He came to general conference with his girlfriend and we are so excited to get to know him and his family and teach them the gospel.

We are trying to improve our teaching skills in clarity and with responding to the promptings of the Spirit's for the understanding and needs of the investigators. The Spirit is truly what converts and if there is no Spirit, nothing will happen. But I know that this is the true church and the power of the Spirit and the Book of Mormon and the faith of members, missionaries, and investigators works miracles. I am very aware of my imperfections, but I will put my trust in the Savior and trust in His perfect plan for me and improve every day and repent every day. I cried so hard during Jeffrey R Holland’s talk. It was the most powerful conference I have ever had in my life. God spoke to me individually this weekend.
Sister Porter