Yep. You read it right... Batangas. I have been transferred! I got that dreaded yet most anticipated phone call of the month. Elder Merriam just laughed and I could just picture the huge smile and look of astonishment and amusement as he told me that I would be transferred to Batangas and reopen the area there and also start training.
It's been quite the 12 weeks here in the Philippines... it doesn't feel that long, but sometimes much much longer too. I've never done anything so hard in my entire life. For those of you that do not understand the complexity of my new adventure reopening means that I have never been to the area before, but I will have to find the people that the other missionaries have been teaching previously. It also means that I have no idea where anything is. Since I also don't speak tagalog the greatest yet that adds challenges. Also I have a new companion. Sister Williams is the most astig (in English this means cool, tough, hip) missionary I have ever met probably. She came pre-trained. I am not training her, except in the philippina ways. She is just wonderful. She really studied the language in the MTC and knows the doctrine. She is strong. She is the best in her batch. She is already my best friend. I am astonished at her abilities. Talaga. She is straight off the airplane from America.
The AP told me as he was driving us to our new apartment (because I have no idea how to get there, I’m in this city all day and I’m not always sure how to get back there) well anyways he said that he is just waiting to read about our success story as we become an example for all the missionaries. I told him I'm just praying that we will have one. Apparently the success that me and Sister Baird had was noticed by president and the Lord and it has encouraged him to put more new American sister together instead of putting an islander and American together when we run out of philippinas.
This is going to be the craziest adventure of my life. Apparently people are amazed with the work we were able to do. I don't really know why though. Anyways, Batangas is beautiful. I love it; I just don't understand how to really get around it yet. It is really frustrating to not know where anything is or how to get there while also paying attention to how to get back to the apartment. I think my tagalog is better than I thought it was, cause a lot of people are surprised at it. I still feel like I know almost nothing though. But I got this. Ya wanna know why? The Lord has called me. I have been called by a prophet of god to serve a mission here in the Philippines and been set apart. I have been given gifts as part of this call. I have witnessed the miracle of the gift of tongues. I can speak tagalog when I am speaking to an investigator and feel the spirit. I can preach His gospel. Talking to people about other things is really hard but I can tell you all about the gospel in tagalog! I simply put my trust and faith in the Lord as he has put his trust in me. I have had the craziest start to a mission in history of the San Pablo mission I think. The Lord is hastening his work and wants the world to know that his original church has been restored and let them hold the evidence of this for himself... the Book of Mormon. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It's a great book! My favorite actually.
I am excited because the Relief Society Meeting for the whole church (happened in Utah) will be broadcasted to the Philippines on Saturday and I will travel an hour to Lipa to see it! Then the next week will be general conference! (We see everything a week later here)
All I know is that the Lord will guide me. I have no idea where I am or what I will do later this week let alone tomorrow or tonight. I have never been more scared in my life. I have never wanted to succeed more either. The Lord has blessed me with Sister Williams to help further his work. I have never done anything like this before. Heck, this is my first time being transferred! But hey, anything will be easy if I can get through this right?
Also, as to the title of my email... the work is being done here in batangas. The ward is great. The leaders are centered on missionary work. The members who are already leaders in the different auxiliaries are also ward missionaries. Bishopric members, young women and men presidencies. Everyone. They hold multiple callings here. And they are excited to work with us I think. I pray that people who are praying for the success of missionaries around the world will start to pray for ways to help the missionaries succeed in their own ward. When that happens, miracles will be so plentiful the Lord might have trouble counting them. Want to help me? Help the missionaries that are walking the streets of your town right now. Push your fears aside. If two small town American girls lacking in skills can find success in the Philippines in a foreign language, you can surely find success in your own community. Just serve the people. Missionary work is pretty simple, all you have to do is open your mouth and tell people what makes you happy. Share your testimony and tell them how families can be eternal and not just until death do you part.
I love the work I have been called to do. And I know the rewards from it are worth the hard work and stress and tears I am going through now. After all, I can't stop now. I know my message is true.
I will have a baptism this weekend and more are planned for the rest of the month. Brother Rye will be baptized on the 19th. I think his testimony that the Book of Mormon is true is stronger than mine. He is a Young Adult and is pretty much amazing. I don't think I've ever heard a more committed testimony before in my life. I am excited. I am trying to meet Darlene though! She's supposed to be baptized this weekend and I can't seem to find out where she's at. :)
Mahal Kita, Sister Stephanie Hellewell