Monday, September 30, 2013

The Field is White, Already Harvesting..... in BATANGAS!

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. :) 

Anyways. I love you all my Family! And of course my friends too! At least I know there are a few of you reading all about my crazy life adventures in the Philippines...

 Mahal Kita, Sister Stephanie Hellewell

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I figure that this title today is very relevant to life right now. We are already starting to celebrate Christmas here and we sing Christmas songs in church and stuff... People here are very christian and sure do love their holidays! 

Also MC Lagado entered the waters of baptism this week. Through her trials and much effort on her part she has learned for herself that the Book of Mormon is true, and that we have a living prophet here on the earth today. She knows with no doubt that Christ’s original and true church has been restored to the earth through the power of god to a prophet, named Joseph Smith.

She is awesome. 

She now has not only been baptized by someone holding authority (She was a member of the catholic church previously) but she has been baptized by immersion, just like our lord Jesus Christ. She has also been given the Gift of the Holy Spirit and is now     entitled help from God, through that gift, every moment of her life. 

This Baptism is pretty much the highlight of my life, so I hope that you can all feel the joy I feel through these words in this email. 

That's pretty much all I want to say about this last week. I was sick, it was miserable, and yeah it pretty much just sucked until the baptism. We did have Zone Conference though and that was awesome! Me and some of the sister's sang a song titled “A window to his love”. It was awesome maybe you can find it on youtube or something! 

(here is a link to the song put together with pictures.  Hopefully it will work for you)

zone conference

I'm including a picture of me sister Baird, sister Harris, and sister Pitman. We are the Tayabas sisters... and everyone in Tayabas keeps mixing up who is who... can you guess why???

Anywho. I love you all! And I’m excited to start this next week. Sister Harris is working with me and Baird this week until Thursday when I will get my new companion. I don't know who yet! But I know she will be awesome! Wish me luck! And if anyone has some good advice on training that'd be great! I don't even completely know what I’m doing myself and sure don't know tagalog yet! But I’ll be fine as I rely on the strength of the lord. 

Have a great week friends and fam! I'm going to SM today so I’m gonna buy me some American chocolate... that will make me very very happy and start out this awesome week right! 

Love, Sister Hellewell

This is in barangay kamaysa near Mc lagado's home... it is beautiful huh??

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sickness and a Change of Heart

kamay ni jesus 
Last Monday we went to Kamay ni Jesus, Or Hand of God in English, in lucban the next area over. It was pretty awesome! It was just us four sisters from Tayabas and we had a great time! It is a catholic site that has statues that go through the life of Christ and other important events from the bible like the Garden of Eden or Moses or Noah’s ark and stuff like that. I'll send pics it was really fun. They also have a Giant Jesus at the end on top of the hill. I've never seen a statue so big in my entire life! 

kamay ni jesus 
kamay ni jesus 

kamay ni jesus-Noah's Ark 

kamay ni jesus 

kamay ni jesus 

kamay ni jesus 

I've also pretty much been sick all week long. I got a sore throat Monday night, and since, I’ve had a cold, cough, sore throat, headache one day, ear ache one day, pretty much all that jazz... pretty much it sucks. I haven’t gotten any better, but I haven’t broken a fever yet despite how hot it has been, so that's good. But I’ve not gotten any better cause I refuse not to work because we had some extra meetings this last week and we needed to see our investigators. Good thing we did because MC lagado asked us if we were going to be at her baptism in october. Well I guess first, she accepted a baptism date on Tuesday, then on Thursday she asked.... and well we said one of us wouldn't be, I guess she has noticed the plethora of companions I have had..... anywho we said no and so she said she wants to be baptized before we leave, since she has been attending church and meets the requirements, she is set to be baptized on Saturday! So we are really excited for that....

I also had my training meeting and most of my batch from the mtc is training. It was so great to see them! We are all a little scared to be training (especially since there is only 1 philippina sister coming, and 19  others either American, Australian or islander) but it looks like I’m the most confident about being able to train since I’m the only one whose been companions with someone who doesn't know tagalog... so I guess I’m good. This will definitely been an interesting next transfer.... the little kids down the street are gonna go crazy when another barbie starts walking around here... but I guess I don't even know if I will be transfer'd yet so I guess we will see...

Not a lot happened this week other than, that with so many meetings in faraway places.  But I love you fam! 

Sister Hellewell

snail in our apartment

Sister Baird and I eating snails

snails we eat

Monday, September 9, 2013

It doesn't matter I am only 21. Alam ko po na totoo ang aklat ni mormon

I had a lot of adventures this week with good ole sister Baird! Unfortunately.... I don't have a lot of time to write this big letter today.  I spent a little extra time hearing from family and other missionary friends this week and also spent a little bit of time freaking out that I will be training next transfer...... yep. You got it. Training at 12 weeks! But I’ll be fine! I hope I get to train an American though... having two cultures different from philippina in the Philippines would be lots lots harder. Especially when you have no language in common anyways.... I had a lot happen this week. 

This is the story I sent to my other missionary friends:
So this week I had quite the adventure. Wednesday we went to follow up on an oym from when we were on our way to that really jungle place I sent a picture of again. 

Me and Sister Baird in the jungle
We oym'd a guy and his daughter who were taught by the sister's before. We taught lesson one, and two of them accepted baptismal dates, and another brother was really sad he couldn't stay to listen. We went back the next day to give them a full Book of Mormon (lots of people have a book that is just parts of the Book of Mormon from before it was all translated) and suddenly this guy is asking us questions to just test our knowledge and asking for signs for him to be healed and all that jazz..... Those guys are the worst! Sometimes I want to just say some things to them and promise them destruction and misery.... ok that's a little melodramatic.... but yeah. Anyways all of the sudden he tells me and sister Baird that we cannot know that the Book of Mormon is true because we are only 21, he said it in taglish so I know I understood!  I looked Mr. G right in the eye and said:  Brother, it does not matter that I am only 21. Alam ko po na totoo ang aklat ni mormon. (I know that the book of mormon is true) then I went off in tagalog on him....  I bore witness that no matter what he says I know that the BOM is the true word of God, and with the bible, contains the fullness of the gospel.  I know it and I will not and cannot deny it. No matter what age, language, or situation anyone can know it is true... I went on to explain how to receive an answer and again tell him how I know it is true. He tried to tell me that the BOM is man-made and so are our pamphlets. but the bible was written by men too and he believes that is true....all in all it was a really good experience and I really experienced the gift of tongues and my testimony is just about a million times stronger and stubborn that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. But then his friend that had been being a jerk to us and was smoking the entire lesson asked me to be his girlfriend and I got grossed out. I really don't want to go back there, but his daughter and son really want to know the truth and have a baptismal goal date so I have too..... Wish me Luck! 

We also taught this old lady that's just the nicest person ever and always gives us papayaya... Which we are quite alright with! We decided to drop her though cause we couldn't communicate and she didn't understand reading definitions from the pamphlets or scriptures or our object lessons.... so we figured, hey teach her in the spirit world when we are sure that worldly illness's are not messing with her mind. and How do you explain God to someone who believe he is the rain and the wind... but says she is catholic... anyways we planned to drop her, but then she showed up to church and is friends with all the nanay's there, so we will just teach with nanay A from now on and see if that helps. That same day we also taught some other nanay's that could not understand authority from God. or the word authority at all. We did a lot of object lessons but they didn't get it. That was all the same day as my first story. That was a rough day. The next day we did a straight up lesson with K that in order to receive answers and help from god you have to ask and then act. So we will be dropping her too if she doesn't read the book of Mormon this week. It's too bad she really wants it and lives close to the church. 

I also got asked why I’m white by a little girl... and I almost said cause I don't eat my veggies, but then I remembered that philippinas want to be white and then didn't know if it would be better to say because I ate them or because I didn't...... Bakit puti po? So cute.....

puti means white.
Our dance group outside our apartment also called us putiful (like beautiful but putiful) it was funny. 

Also.... I don't have time to write this story but we are teaching a very catholic woman.... we were cross referencing her favorite chapter in the bible 1 corithians 13 to moroni 7.... She decided to read chapter 8 heading instead..... and was not ready for the doctrine taught there..... do some research and use some logic imagination for how that lesson went........ yikes. 

But all in all it was a successful but hard week and four investigators went to sacrament meeting!!! IT WAS AWESOME!!!!

Any who...... I love you! And I hope all is well back home! 
And that you aren't too depressed the garden was destroyed mostly in the big storm and that Josh learns how to use knives better... ha-ha. LOVE YOU ALL it was good to hear from you this week. 
Also, I got the pictures from when Carolyn and all her family were in town (to Boise) it looks like a lot of fun! It made me want pictures of my funny little brothers too though! Mom, it got here alright and only cost me about two American dollars. love ya!
Next week I hopefully will remember to tell you about our new family mission plans that are just so awesome! 

Also I ate snail this week. It was gross to suck them out of the shell but it was actually pretty good and bishop's wife is a really good cook. Apparently snail is a delicacy here.... I’m glad it wasn't those big ones next to my house....

mahal kita!

Sister hellewell 

Monday, September 2, 2013

A New Era story waiting to happen

So I have to do this one really fast this week. I had a lot of other emails that I have responded to and for some reason today I just really wanted to talk to people not just write on and on about what I’m up to without even knowing who is listening! I also heard from many of my missionary friends and they are always uplifting me, and I really need that. Side note: Caiti Hall I wrote you a letter, and then I got your letters, so I wrote you another one... thanks for just being the greatest friend in the world! This next one is really long... but I love you and don't be confused by the first letter you get not having any responses to your comments... Thanks for always making me laugh out loud. I love being able to read your letters again and again. 

So, earlier this week Sister Baird said that we are just a new era story waiting to happen. Because really, they put the two of us in the middle of a big city, with city rice fields and jungle and we are just tackling it all and wearing each other out every single day!!! I love the new jungle area we found close to where we live. I hope to teach more people there... Not a lot happened this week. We did a lot of tracting, got punted a plenty and OYM'd the world. We got the highest number for street contacts this week for our district (79) and we didn't even work one of the days! We are tracting like crazy but we find joy in the simple things and don't let ourselves get down. We are just happy with the little things like Sister Baird pronouncing kanina correctly or me understanding someone. I am learning how to be myself more when I do street contacting and that is what really helps us learn how to speak tagalog too! I love it! 

We had one really touching lesson this week that I would really like to share. We have one investigator who is part of a part member family. She knows how to know if what we are teaching is true. She knows the gospel is blessing her daughter, and she just won't let herself be open to the millions of blessings pounding on her door just waiting for her to let one of them in. Mostly she just has no desire to change, we need to drop her soon. But her husband is really open to us and truly wants to know the truth. The problem is that he works in Manila and is rarely home, that happens a lot here it is really sad. I hope some missionaries in Manila can find him and teach him there. 
Anywho... We decided to teach her a lesson on a mother's example and read with her in Alma 56: I believe it is about the stripling warriors. Anyways, this story is about this guy named Helamen and he is in charge of an army of young men who are going off to war to protect their families. Helamen is so proud of these guys. They have more courage than anyone I have ever learned about. They do not fear battle because their mothers taught them both by example and by their words. They taught their sons to love the Lord and trust in him, as well as how to do everything they needed to do to succeed.  They never had any doubt that their mothers believed that their teachings were true. I connected this to my life. Luckily that day I was wearing the green dress my momma made me! She really liked me and complemented me on it. I explained that my mother had made it for me and she was really impressed, especially since I told her my mom can substitute teach and she isn't even a sewer for a living! I connected my mother teaching me how to sew a dress, just like the one I was wearing. And that it isn't just the things like sewing or growing a garden that my mother taught me are important, but she also taught me how to read the Book of Mormon and connect it to my life. She taught me how to pray and most importantly she showed all this to me in her example. Would I believe these things I’ve been taught are important if my mother did not teach them to me and then actually do them herself? NO! Of course I would have many more doubts especially as I was still learning them as a child. It is because of my parent’s example that I am here teaching her. I felt the spirit very strongly and I pray that she will want to just read the Book of Mormon and just learn for herself that it is true! She won't even pray to know if the best gift she has ever received is true! I wish she could just see how important this is and realize how it could change her life! We have taught her the Plan of Salvation and how through this plan and by following the gospel of Jesus Christ while here on the earth (Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, Baptism by immersion by someone holding the authority of god, the gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the end) how all this could just make her life a million times better! It is frustrating sometimes when I am trying so hard to help someone and they use their agency not to accept it! But I remind myself that as I do my best and teach by the spirit I am doing my part and they have their own agency and can choose as they desire. 

My new favorite place to be

This is the dress my mom made for me that I was talking about in the story.

Sometimes when I think about it I also forget that I am doing all this in Tagalog with someone who knows just as much tagalog as I do! (which, let me tell you my friends... is not too much) but the holy ghost truly does tell me what to say and sometimes how to say it when I keep myself worthy of such a gift! 
I love you all, and I am so grateful to be here on my mission no matter how many times I get discouraged or frustrated with the language or trying to work with members... but I know how important this work is and that I need to do all I can and the lord's grace will make up for the rest! 

Mahal Kita,

Sister Hellewell

baby snails we found on the porch.  They are bigger than the ones we find in the U.S.


Rambutan! My new favorite fruit