Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rebecca's Missionary Meeting Details!

                               Sunday, March 16th
                              Canyon Road Building
                             2100 North 100 East, PG,11:00 am

                             Drop by the house afterwards and welcome her home!  2184 North 180 West, PG

                            Thank you for giving Sister Woahn
                             a few days after she returns, before you drop by!  
                             Friends are welcome after her Missionary Meeting and beyond!

How Great Shall Be Your Joy!

Hey Family!
This week has been really really good. I can’t believe that I have so little time left, I feel like I’ll never leave! I don’t want to leave…

I had the opportunity to bear my “farewell testimony” at  my last Mission Leadership Council.  That is my 11th MLC!   I thought I wasn’t going to cry… for the last 18 months I’ve told myself I wouldn’t cry when I got up, and I was doing so so good!  Until I started talking about our Savior. 

My testimony of Jesus Christ has grown 1,000x on my mission. I love him. He is my brother, my Redeemer, my Comforter, Example, Truth, Light, Best Friend. I have such a strong testimony of his atonement and how we can and should use it daily in our lives. Prayer is the answer to all of life’s problems and will get us through every trial we ever face. I love the gospel and I love the church!

So, I’d just like to throw out a few “firsts” this week.
·       First time there were more investigators in every class at the beginning of church than members.
·       First time we’ve had more than 20 investigators with baptismal dates.
·       First time I’ve had an investigator bear their testimony of fasting and tithing before we’ve even taught it.
·       First time it hit me that I’m really coming home.

 There is a reason my email is entitled “how great shall be your joy.” The windows of heaven were opened this week and we saw so many miracles. Seriously it blows my mind how wonderful the Lord is. I also felt as though there were days I was literally dragging myself out to work. My body has had it… but my spirit is still going strong! I now understand the scripture  “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). I think that my body is just saying “stop now! You’ve been doing this for 19 months!”  But my spirit is saying “keep going! You aren’t done yet and there’s still work to do.” So it’s been a battle of emotions and many sleepless nights as I’ve been contemplating my arrival in Utah next week.

 I'm no longer "qualified" to be a missionary, 
my ministerial certificate expired!

We are so excited because on March 22 the Palacay family will be baptized together! Bittersweet that I won't be here, yes, but I am so happy I’ve been able to be here for their conversion and I know that it isn’t important “who” baptizes as long as they are baptized.

There are also 20 other investigators in our area that currently have baptism dates and are preparing for this March of April… and the coolest part? They are sincere! They are coming to church! They are reading the Book of Mormon… and they are praying!

Our Recent convert wrote this in the front of her BOM.  S
We had 11 of our investigators show up at church this week and it was the most humbling experience as I watched these people that I love make sacrifices to come to the house of the Lord and worship him. 

Why does it always seem that right when everything is wonderful I leave? But so it is with life. We can’t always enjoy the wonderful things or we wouldn’t appreciate them as much. Our attendance was also 128 on Sunday… it was about 70 or 80 when we first got her. Slow and steady wins the race!

I can’t believe my mission is coming to an end. I never thought it really would. I look back on all the crazy and wonderful experiences of my mission and I can’t express enough thanks for my Father in Heaven for directing my paths. I can’t imagine my life without this testimony building experience.
“Your first convert must be yourself.” I know that is true. I know that every time we’ve been yelled at, hid from, spat at, made fun of, ridiculed, persecuted has been worth it. I know that even though we feel the pain of rejection, Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of humility.

I know that every companion I’ve had, responsibility given, trial and challenge has been given to me by a loving Heavenly Father who truly knows best. Our Father loves us. He knows us. He wants what is best for us and will do anything even if it means watching us suffer, to help us be strengthened and return to him.

I know this church is true. I know the Atonement is real. I know that there is NO OTHER WAY except through Jesus Christ. I have seen lives change and wounds healed. I’ve watched wounds be healed and addictions overcome because of His infinite love. I know that my Savior died for ME. I know that He is always there waiting and we just need to let him in. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and I am so thankful that I have been privileged to be His representative in this part of His vineyard for this marvelous time of hastening the work.

I know this work is real. I know that the Savior will come again and I know that we will be ready as we heed the counsel of our living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson.  No unhallowed hand can stop the work of the Lord from going forth, and no hallowed hand ever will. This work is true and the most important of all the responsibilities we have as members of the TRUE CHURCH here on the earth. I love my Savior and my Father in Heaven.

I am excited to see you all! A little nervous… but excited too.

Thank you for your support and love throughout this marvellous journey I’ve been on.

Mahal na mahal ko kayo!

Sister Woahn

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Surprise! You thought you still had 2 1/2 weeks . . . . (February 23)

Rebecca sent the following quick email response last week with these pictures.  Mom and Dad Woahn just happened to be online and got these quick emails within minutes after she sent them:
  • You all got trunky so they're sending me home early . . .
  • "Boo, you goof! Why are you in Manila?"
  • I'm coming home!
  • "We know in 2 weeks, what's going on?"
  • Ha Ha are you sure?
  • "Okay little one, you just fess up where you are and what is happening?
  • Ha,ha . . . just wait . . . I'll tell you in my email!

And so, her dear old ma and pa waited for over an hour while she finished her email.  A little background information . .  .the month before a couple of missionaries had been sent home 2 weeks early because of visas issues, so we truly thought this could be a possibility!   Read on . . . .

Ha ha ha so I know you all just freaked out about the pictures I just sent… so let me just remind you to keep breathing and continue reading… I will explain below. J
So last Tuesday, I was on exchanges with Sister Concepcion who is in my apartment (this is her first transfer) and we were about to start a lesson with some awesome new investigators when our phone starts ringing. Usually I would just ignore it, but since it as President Barrientos I decided otherwise and stood up and walked out of the lesson. When I picked up the phone the first things President asks is if I’m on exchanges and where and where I will be tomorrow. He said, “Well, you will need to cancel your exchanges because you need to come to the mission office tomorrow morning.” He then continues, “You’ll be getting on a flight tomorrow night headed to Manila.” At this point about 256373 thoughts were running through my head and I wasn’t breathing right. I couldn’t even cry because my thoughts weren’t even registering. All I could manage to say was “Ano? Bakit? Haan… I don’t leave until March 13!... President.. NO!”

Then he proceeded to tell me that me, Sister Schultz, Elder Taukei and Elder Knowles would be flying to Manila and there we would go to the embassy… didn’t hear any of that because I was still in shock and my heart wasn’t beating. There must’ve been a long pause on my end because then President goes…. “Sister Woahn, calm down! You’re not going home, you’ll be back on Thursday. I’ll call you later with more information.” Then hangs up.
 After about 2 hours I think my heart started beating like normal again and I regained some sort of thought process. So long story short, because we got extended 6 weeks our visa’s were supposed to end this week, so the 4 of us going home had to go to Manila to re-extend our visa’s at the emigration office.

The story of us going to Manila could probably take another 4 hours to type up... seeing as it was so funny, but I’ll just summarize it quickly seeing as there are more important things that happened this week. I traveled to Laoag (by myself) on Wednesday morning… then met Sister Schultz (where we were companions for 3 days) flew to Manila on Wednesday night, then at 6:30am went to the Emmigration office. We ran to Mall of Asia, bought some Krispy Kreme doughnuts, took some pictures outside of the Temple, and then went back to the airport for about 6 hours. We met a lot of new friends on our flights and got their email addresses… most of them live in the USA, so hopefully we’ll see them again.

Alright! So, aside from the fact that I missed about 3 days of work in our area… this week was really good! Friday when I got back we did weekly planning then went out to work… I thought I was going to die I was so tired, but it’s okay because we visited my favorite people! The De Guzman family and the Palacay family!
The De Guzman family is doing great!  But Marisel and Evelyn came to church on Sunday… but they were late and the doors were closed and we didn’t see them… SO they thought that it was closed. What? They made all that effort and then they didn’t even come inside! Ha ha but at least now they feel so bad that they’re like 110% sure they’ll be there next week.

The Palacay family! Joel, Luz and Joshua all came to church! They just took their motorcycle with the three of them. So keep praying for this massive family… I have faith that they alone could create a branch.  Our struggle right now is that we followed up with WOW last night and some have been drinking coffee still. Curse you Satan! Seriously… coffee? What? That’s gonna keep you out of the Celestial Kingdom? GAHHH. I wanted to cry. Seriously I almost did right in front of them, but I kept it in. We’ll go back later tonight and follow-up.
So, Tessie Gacho had a mild stroke on Monday… half of her face won’t move. We contacted the priesthood in the branch and they gave her a blessing… then the next day she went back to the hospital! We were worried it my shake her faith, but it’s as strong as ever. She said “ I know this is just a trial of my faith because my baptism is so close. Heavenly Father is just trying me to see how strong I am.” Amazing. Needless to say, she wasn’t able to come to church this week because she had a doctor’s appointment in the middle of it. Sad. BUT she promised she would be there this week. Only time will tell. J

We had 8 investigators come to church this week! Which is an improvement but was no where near our goal of 24. We basically assigned every branch member an investigator to pick up and they did it! It was awesome! We also had a less-active member who drove us to one of our appointments volunteer to go back and pick up one of our investigator families for church because he said “it would MAKE him come to church.” And he did! The funny thing is when we got in his trice we didn’t even know he was a member… haha, there are no coincidences!

Jona and Catie, it’s a good thing you’re married because I think that every Filipino woman has a crush on Jona. Every time they see our family picture they ask about Jona. Then they say that Dad looks like the President of the United States and they say that mom looks “so young!” Then they think Jessica is a Barbie and then they ask how tall Aubrey and Benji are. Ha ha. Same conversation… every time. Then their next comment? “So, you come from a family of beautiful people… what happened to you? Ha haha” just kidding. But they always ask why I’m short.

 I feel like this week went by in like 5 seconds… but then it feels really long as well! I’m super stressed and super busy because our area is exploding right now and we have about 30 investigators we’re trying to extend dates to and help get ready for baptism in the next few weeks, which isn’t an easy task where Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom is rampant in the Philippines. Seriously I think I’ve met like 10 people my entire mission that don’t have a problem with one of these things. We had 3 less-actives at church yesterday, and all of them are preparing to go to the temple!

I love Pasuquin, I never want to leave! We found a new family this week – the Lagrosa family! They are awesome. They were actually a referral (okay, what? We never get referrals…) and they came to church! Well, just the kids did, but it’s a start! When we got there we found out that their uncle is a counselor in the district presidency. So, I would say that is some potential! Ha we’ll extend baptism dates to them this week.

Well family, life is good! I’m sorry I played a mean joke on you, but I love you all!   Keep staying busy and don’t get trunky! Mahal ko kayo! “Wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above!”

Sister Woahn

I Feel the Earth Move . . . Under my Feet (February 16th)

So this week can probably be described in one word- STRESS! Ha ha. Seriously I’m so stressed about coming home I’ve been trying not to think about it... I’ve even been tempted to not check my email for the next few weeks just so I can enjoy my time here.

After I emailed last week I wrote on a sticky note and stuck it up on my wall by my desk- it says “It’s not over yet!”  Ha ha I still have some time to change the world, right? Anyways, that’s just a side note going on inside of my head… while coming home is exciting and scary… and it is too quickly approaching… I am happily trying to avoid the thought of it as long as I can. Therefore, I’ve limited my “thinking of home time” to the hour and a half I am on the computer. Haha. Anyways… it’ll be nice to get home and focus on that part of my life.

So this week… was awesome! Haha. Seriously it was one of the best weeks I’ve had my entire mission. So, we had 2 days of meetings this week, sometime I wish we could just concentrate on proselyting. It can be disheartening seeing other missionaries with tons and tons of lessons and such in their areas… however, I always am reminded of Aubrey’s favorite part of PMG in Chapter 1 about how we shouldn’t compare our success as missionaries to others. The responsibility of a leader is just different I guess.

Doesn't ours just look true?
One more thing I realized this week which isn’t really important… but every single “baptism” I’ve had my entire mission has been planted by me and my companion… except for one in Camalaniugan. We have found nearly every single one of the people that I have witnesses enter into the waters of baptism. That really isn’t important, like I said before… however it just helps explain what I had said a while back about how my mission feels like a “pioneering” mission.

So this week I feel like the Lord has been trying to teach me to love people. That sounds crazy… but we had a few experience this week that really tried my charity and love for a few of our beloved members, and I know that it was just a trial of my charity and love.

WHAT THE?!?!?! We just literally had an earthquake happen while I was typing that sentence. That was the craziest experience of my life. Seriously the earth just started shaking like it was jelly. Ha ha talk  about not knowing what to do in an emergency… that was so crazy! Gahhhh. Anyways, it was just a small one and we’re fine, nothing happened or fell, but that was definitely the biggest earthquake I’ve ever experienced…what on earth?
Okay so back to this week. So learning about charity and love… led me to talk about it in sacrament meeting. I think the branch got it, as our next door neighbor quoted my talk later in the night. Haha. I truly just feel that if we love people, we will have no problem with doing the things the Lord expects of us as people, because it will just be a part of who we are. It will no longer be actions… but it will be what we have become.

So yesterday we were sitting in church and we were just anxiously awaiting the arrival of a few investigators who had promised to come to church. Well all of a sudden we see a trice pull up and out steps Tessie! We were so excited I literally ran to the trice! Ha ha we were positive she wouldn’t be able to make it bcause she had said that next week would be when she could come, but your prayers and fasting worked and she came! She loved it! And everyone was so happy she was there… as were we. J

Palacay Family
Also, Joel Palacay came to church! So cool! So did Luz. They keep taking turns… haha but we were so excited to see them! You can tell their relationship has changed with one another and they have more love and respect for each other. I love that family so much.

I need to go, but I love you all! Until next week… Remember to just love people and everything will be alright! “What the world needs now is love sweet love!” I love you all! Lots more stories to come when I get home!

Ay-ayaten dakayo!

Sister Woahn
Frenchie, nephew of a recent convert from San Nicolas

Monday, February 10, 2014

18 months Down . . .. and counting!

My excellent fish preparation skills
I’m so scared to come home. I had a break down last night where I started to cry because I don’t know what I’m doing with my life! Ha ha. I’m sure that every missionary feels this to some degree, but I’m so scared because I don’t want to revert back to old habits and such… but at the same time I’m so excited to just collapse and lay on the couch for like a day.  Where are we going to eat when I get back? Can’t wait to not eat rice for a day! J

Cutest dog in the Philippines
Alright so this week was a good one! Ha ha. We just keep chuggin’ along here in Pasuquin. We keep seeing miracles in our area that I’ve realized if we don’t take time to notice, we may just pass them by. I think sometimes in missionary work we see so many miracles that we start to take them for granted, but I’ve been trying to rediscover the tender mercies of the Lord in everyday.

Sister Buduan was in Laoag waiting for her new trainee this week, so it was just me and Sister Deyro. But we were able to see some great things happen in our area- including that the entire Palacay family sat and listened together. That is the first time that the entire family has been there with no one missing! We had about 6 members of the branch there with us, including the Baclagan family who I LOVE. They are our next door neighbors and I wish I could pack them up and bring them home with me. They just make everything so fun and Nanay works with us like every time we even mention we need a fellowshipper.

 We had lunch on the beach this week with our wonderful fellowshipper, Remy. She lives in Tulnagan underneath a bridge that crosses over a river flowing into the ocean… we ate outside in their “bahay kubo…” I don’t know what that is in English, sorry. BUT it was beautiful and I had a moment of “I live in a beautiful country.” 

Rachel Luz might be one of my favorite people I’ve ever met on my mission. She’s always so happy to see us and even when she has somewhere to go she will set her own return appointment. She didn’t come to church either… there’s about 20 or so investigators that should’ve come to church that didn’t… what on earth?  We have TONS of investigators with baptismal dates who read and pray, the only thing left to do is come to church, and they don’t do it! ARGH! 

But life’s still alright, our members are really stepping up to the plate, we had 15 lessons with a member present this week and only 4 lessons taught to investigators without a member there… members truly make ALL the difference.  

We have some amazing investigators with so much potential! I’m just praying that at least some of them will decide to act so that I will be here to witness their baptisms before I go. Yesterday I was sitting in church and I asked myself if I left tomorrow would I be happy with what I have accomplished on my mission? I was pondering why no one came to church, what I had done wrong, what I need to do better. Then it hit me.  Our measure of if we are successful as missionary isn’t dependant on other’s agency of whether they accept our message, but it all comes down to how we LIVE the gospel when we no longer have our name tag. I guess the true test of missionary is who you are when you get home… so I guess what I’m saying is the biggest trials are yet to come!  
They sell shells like this for a lot of  money, this one is hanging
upside down so the snaill will drop out.
I’ve learned that no longer how “long” you are a missionary, you will never be perfect. The longer I’m on my mission the longer I realize I have so much to improve. I’m at my 18 month mark… crazy ha?... and I’m still so far from being a perfect missionary and person. BUT I guess that’s just a part of life, right? If we were perfect we wouldn’t need to be here on earth.

Don’t get trunky yet, ha? I’ve still got a ways to go! Ha ha you’re all so funny… you’re more trunky than I am! 

Love you!  Sister Woahn

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sister Woahn's Missionary Meeting Scheduled!

Rebecca's Missionary Meeting Scheduled!

                               Sunday, March 16th
                              Canyon Road Building
                             2100 North 100 East, PG,11:00 am

                             Drop by the house afterwards and welcome her home!  2184 North 180 West, PG

                            Thank you for giving Sister Woahn
                             a few days after she returns, before you drop by!  
                             Friends are welcome after her Missionary Meeting and beyond!

Land Slide Alert!

Friends and Family-

Soooo…. LAST TRANSFER! What?! So big news is…. Whala. Nothing happened. I’m staying in Pasuquin with Sister Deyro. We waited all day Friday and Saturday and no call came… so naturally we just assumed we’re staying together, and then I got the transfer list in my inbox this morning and it’s true!

So looks like we just get to keep going at what we’ve started, and I’m excited because the Palacay family is totally going to get baptized this transfer (with a lot of prayer and fasting. J)

I can’t believe I have 6 weeks left… what on earth? I thought this day would never come. You all know how there’s points in your mission you just want it to all be over, and then times where you never want it to end… well once the end is near it feels life everything starts going into hyperspeed mode and you’ll never have enough time to accomplish everything you need to. I seriously have been so STRESSED this week as I’ve realized how much I have left to accomplish and so little time to do so.

So onto what actually happened this week. Tuesday and Wednesday we had exchanges in Claveria… which for the record is AT LEAST 3 hours from our apartment. Keep in mind please that we don’t have a car or any reliable form of transportation. We are completely dependent on the unreliable Philippines bus and jeepney system. So other than about 20 hours of bus rides this week, the exchanges went great!

The first one was in Claveria where it is like the North Pole. Seriously, the sun doesn’t shine there and it rains 24 X 7. Gahhh. I froze!!!  I proselyted with my leggings on and slept with 2 pairs of socks. But the area up there is great and really progressing so well! They have some awesome recent converts. And I had an awesome time with Sister Elder (yes, that is her name) from Fiji. Her family owns an island… and she said that we can come visit them any time… so dad, I would start planning our next family vacation.

In the morning we woke up especially early to be at district meeting in Claveria by 9:00am. Well, we got a text when we were about 1 hour away that we wouldn’t be having district meeting because there was a landslide on the road in Pagudpud- as in the mountain fell onto the road into the ocean... We got this text while we were IN Pagudpud. So I immediately texted President Barrientos who called and said “use your judgment Sister Woahn. If you get up there and it’s not safe, just turn around and go home! Just be smart.” Ha ha I love President. So we decided to just keep on going until we got stuck somewhere. Well, we did get stuck somewhere, in this cave right by the ocean and a waterfall with two of the elders who were early heading to district meeting as well. So we did some sightseeing by the ocean, took a few pictures and then by the time Sister Abuel had bought some souvenirs at the waterfall, they had cleared the road and we made it up to Claveria and finished apartment checks then headed back home to Pasuquin. Only in the Philippines.

We had a baptism! It was so great! Jason was so ready and his son Jaymar was also able to be baptized with them as well as their cousin, Jessa. So so cool! Even Jason’s wife, Margie, was able to make it. Jason was so happy and beaming after his baptism and then yesterday when he got confirmed. He has potential to be a leader here, he is super smart and understands everything about the gospel… he just “gets it.”
Now everyone pray that our branch will be able to retain our recent converts and get on top of their home and visiting teaching. J That’s the worst part about being a missionary… baptizing people and then a few months later finding out they rarely come to church because no one from the ward/branch reaches out to them or visits them. SO frustrating…. But the work must go on! I truly believe that everyone will be held accountable for their works and understanding at the judgment day… and that doesn’t mean that we just need to “be” good, we must “do” good. Meaning… if we have a calling we must DO what it we requires and magnify it, we can’t just BE the relief society president.

So another awesome thing that happened this week is that we had a video showing at the church of the restoration and there were like 80+ people there, the majority of which were investigators… it was so awesome!  There were tons of investigators there and the best part? The members were the ones who went and picked them up! We just showed up and our investigators were there! Amazing! It went really well… and other than the fact that the video we watched was from the 1980’s and was in Ilokano, I think that our investigators understood really well the Restoration… especially after our branch president retold the Restoration in Tagalog after the movie finished in Ilokano. Ha ha ha I love the church.

We were a little nervous that our investigators wouldn’t show up to church on Sunday because the film viewing went a little long…. And we were correct for the most part, BUT Luz and Joshua Palacay were there and so was Rowena’s son, Rogelio. Even though there were just 3 of them, they are our faithful few… and the Palacay family is slowly but surely progressing! Tatay Joel accepted the baptism invitation and we are planning their baptism for March before I leave. I would cry like a baby if I got to witness their baptism before I go home. Baptizing families is the best feeling in the world… especially when they are all potential priesthood holders! Just thinking of that family sealing makes me so happy inside.

Last night we worked with Noewelyn again, I love her. We had a referral that lives in her area, so we asked her about it and it turned out to be her cousinsish… hard to explain relationships here in the Philippines… anyways. Miracle! So we went and taught them- 4 sisters. Their parents are not there, so their oldest sister is the one looking after them for now. It was a great lesson and they accepted a return appointment for next week! Want to know the best part? Their last name is Palacay…

Well, I need to go now, I hope that this letter makes sense, my mind is a little scatter brained right now.  I’ll be late emailing next week- MLC. Just FYI. The church is true! I love it! Live the gospel, it WILL bless your life, no doubt about it.  Sister Woahn

Liz - This one's for you!  I love this dog!  His name is Sweetie!