Happy Easter!

March 27, 2016

So.. This week was great, and all but nothing really happened. It was a pretty chill week because my companion was having a really hard time with having to go home so she was very emotional. Long story short, we only worked for two days this week. But! One day we did get to go to Urdaneta for the career workshop all the departing missionaries have. While Sister Cuenca was in her workshop I got to work with the Sisters in the Urdaneta Zone! Woo! I LOVED IT! 1. Because I actually got to work. 2. My temporary companion was SO fun and SO kind. 3. She's from Bountiful Utah so we got to talk about China Platter. ;D Her name is Sister Strohn and she is just a great person to be around. She was also able to give me lots of advice with learning the language which I always appreciate. But! What was nice about it was the advice she gave me was mostly the things I do, like reading The Book of Mormon in Tagalog and ALWAYS praying in Tagalog even if it's a personal prayer. I wonder if Heavenly Father ever laughs at my prayers because I'm sure they're pretty funny. (; 

Sister Cuenca never lets me give the companionship prayer at night because I always take too long.. Haha, I can't help that I have lots of things to be thankful for, people to pray for, and many, many things we need help with, and have to say it in a language I can't speak! ;D

Anyway, Easter celebration honestly wasn't anything special. Other than the extra thoughts about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, nothing was different except we got a hard boiled egg after Relief Society. Haha. The lessons in Church weren't even specifically about The Atonement. I would say they weren't about The Atonement, but everything anyone could ever talk about in life is related to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Everything we have and are is because of The Atonement of Jesus Christ. During the Christmas Devotional we watched in the MTC, Elder David A. Bednar said "the light of Christ literally saves our lives." Man.. I have never forgot the sentence since the moment I heard it. I want all of you to ponder that sentence thinking about how "the light of Christ" relates to Christ's birth, life, and Atonement. Then! Email me about your thoughts, feelings, enlightenment, and promptings about it. (: 
Bye Sister Cuenca.. D;

Also.. CONGRATULATIONS TO FUZZY [Alejandra Monson]! We all knew she would be the first one married. Kellie Heder and I were totally right. We'll see how good we really were if I'm next. (; Who knew little sixth grade us were so inspired. Haha. (;  

I love you all SOOOO much! Sorry if I don't write you all back.. I will one week, PROMISE! I just don't have enough time to write everyone every week. 

Mahal ko kayo lahat! :D [I love you all!]

In celebration of Fuzzy being engaged.. Here's a picture of my investigator Alejandra and her grandson Jervon. (:

Tagalog, Tracting, Transfers

March 20, 2016

Sister Naua
[Did you have an extra week in this transfer?] Yes, this transfer has 7 weeks because of the change in the MTC. If you're not learning a new language for your mission you go to the MTC for 3 weeks now instead of 2. [Transfers are next week]

[On a scale from 1 - 10, how is your Tagalog? 1 being day one in the MTC and 10 being fluent enough you don't even need to think about it.] I'd say my Tagalog is about a 4.. I still can't speak in the proper grammar or use all Tagalog words in a sentence. I also haven't even reached the point I can understand people yet. I can tell I have definitely improved on understanding people, but it's still REALLLY hard to figure out what they're saying; especially if it's a random story about their lives, then I have pretty much no idea what they're saying. Haha. It's a bit awkward asking someone a question and not being able to understand their answer. ;D But I'm noticing my improvement which is a blessing because it helps me not be discouraged. (: 

Sister Emily and her investigators
[What effort is your mission taking for the #Hallelujah initiative?] The Easter Initiative is AWESOME! It is truly an inspired initiative from God. The mission isn't doing anything specific. We are doing it more as a companionship or kabahay [roomate] thing. There are some districts doing big things together, but not mine. 

The Lingayen zone is doing a photo booth thing on the beach which sounds like a good way to catch people's attention. As for my district, we're just using the pass along cards and we come up with something special to do as a companionship. So last week Sister Cuenca and I just took our little DVD player with us while we worked and showed the Mormon Message type video in our lessons. As simple as that is, it helps A TON! People love getting to watch a little video, but it also brings the spirit SO strongly. I know that there have been a lot of seeds planted just because of a simple video about the blessings of following Jesus Christ.   

[Do you tract? knock on doors?] We don't really call it tracting, but I'd say we kind of do. We just talk to the people out on the streets or sitting outside in their yard and if they aren't busy we ask to share a message and end up getting new investigators that way. But most of the time we have so many investigators and referrals we don't spend time just tracting. We only really tract as we walk to an investigators house. 

[What is your daily schedule?] Anyway! We wake up at 6:30 and have kabahay prayer so we can all make sure both companionship's are up on time. Then we're supposed to exercise till 7:00 and we all know that doesn't happen very often.. ;D I've learned that I purposely make my personal morning prayers SUPER long so I have an excuse for not doing sit ups or push ups. (; Then we get ready for the day and start personal study at 8:00 then companionship study at 9:00 and then when we finish with companionship study we do my training program till 11:00. Then we make lunch and then of course eat it. Then we are to work by 1:00. (: Then we work till about 7:30 so we can be back home before 8:00. Then when we get home for the night we do daily planning for the next day, update the area book, do laundry (if I feel like it, which isn't very often.. So I usually wait till it's an absolute need ;D), write in my journal, shower again, then get ready for bed. But of course there's lots of partying in between all of that. (; 

I found the secret to helping me not eat a lot..
Something about staring at the head of what I'm eating doesn't make me very hungry. ;D

"I walk around giving out a gift..."

March 14, 2016

[Today is daylight Savings.  Does the Philippines have daylight savings?] No, there's no daylight savings. The sun is up and ready for the day at 6:00 and down for the night at 6:30. There's not enough sunlight to save. Haha. ;D 

Sack and me
[Is Sister Cuenca's time up? When is transfers? What does she intend to do when she gets home? School?] Sister Cuenca's last day in the field is the 29th, which is the last week of the transfer, so I'll be in a trisome for a couple days before I get my new companion. She plans to work. She's already finished school and has a degree in marketing. (: 

[Where do you email from?] We just email from an internet cafe where ever we can find one that works. (; 

So! This week I found out that my investigator Justoni and his "wife" are finally going to get married on March 30th! Justoni comes to church every week with his family and would be baptized already, but his dad petitioned against Justoni and Hydie getting married so Justoni could get a visa to work abroad in America. But! Justoni finally stood up to his dad and will now be getting married and then April 12th be baptized! (: Hydie is already a member, so in a year they'll have the opportunity to be sealed together as a family for all eternity! Woo! I'm so happy for them and their decision to follow God's commandments and Plan of Happiness. (: 

Anyway, life is great! I really enjoyed this week. I had my first zone conference which was a lot of fun to meet more of the missionaries. The two things that stuck out to me the most is first, Family Home Evening is a commandment; it is not optional. It is a commandment from God and we all need to help unite our families by giving an evening to God by focusing our home and family on Jesus Christ. 

Second, everyone has personal agency. I used to really struggle with being discouraged because people won't keep their commitments and exercise faith by reading The Book of Mormon or coming to church. It was so heart breaking for me when people would literally hold the evidence of everything we teach them in their hands and they won't read it and come to know the truth for themselves. It's still heart breaking, but I now take into account that that is their own choice through their own personal agency, not my lack of being a "good" missionary. I am doing my part, they have to do theirs. Anyway, I was able to learn all this by a very simple analogy President Deyro shared with us. As missionaries I walk around giving out a gift, and some accept and appreciate it, GREAT! But some don't want my gift, OH WELL, at least I still have the gift. 

So those are my thoughts and insights. K, love you, bye. Ask me to write about my daily schedule next week. LOVE YOU!

Ryan's Baptism

March 6, 2016

[How was the baptism?] Ryan's baptism was absolutely wonderful! It was super exciting just to see how excited he was. When I walked into the church seeing him sitting next to his wife, Fatima, in his white jumpsuit while holding his little two-year old, Bambam, I about died. I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness for this family. 

Me, Ryan, Sister Cuenca
Ryan and Fatima are so excited to be able to be sealed as a family next year! I'm telling you, the experiences I've had helping Ryan come unto Christ are exactly what missionary work is all about! I love being worthy enough to be a servant of the Lord. I've never experienced happiness like I do here before my mission. Man, life is SOOO good! (:

[How many missionaries are in your district? zone?] Anyway! I'm actually in the smallest zone in the mission area wise (I don't know about missionary wise). There's two Districts. Mine has four companion ships; two Sisters and two Elders. The other District has four Elder companionship's as well.

[What are your mission goals? and Standard of Excellence?] Our mission goal is to baptize every week. The Standards of Excellence are 18 lessons with investigators; 5 with a member present, 7 lessons with Less Actives/Recent Converts, 7 Member Visits, and of course baptize every week. 

So! Life is so great! I'm staying super happy! It's been interesting though with Sister Cuenca because I'm still super new sa [on] mission field and this is her last transfer. She's been struggling a bit with knowing she's going home this month. I wish I could help cheer her up better, but I don't exactly know how to help her very well considering we're on completely opposite sides of the scale. But! I'm very lucky she's still very diligent and likes to work. I'm honestly going to miss her a lot.. It's hard knowing that I'll have ANOTHER new companion. Before I start my third transfer I will have my FOURTH Trainer! I should still be on my first like most people. Grabe! [Seriously!] I'm not used to so much change. I need some stability in my life. (;

"It's a Christmas Miracle!"

February 28, 2016

Joyce, Naan, Sister Naua
I went on exchanges with Sister Naua again
 and we did our blitz for relentless week
 in a different area for a couple hours on Friday. (:
[How established is the church there in Aguilar? Is it a branch, ward, stake?
Do they have all the programs we have like: Mutual, Scouts, Relief Society once a month?] The church is fairly established in Aguilar, but it is still a district. They do have mutual and institute, but I don't know about scouts.. I honestly want to say no they don't do scouts, but I'm not 100% sure. 

[How many members attend church?] There are almost enough members to be a ward/stake, but practically all of the members are less active or even inactive. It's quite heartbreaking how many less actives there are here. I'd say there's about 80 people that come on a good day (and that includes the kids). What makes it even worse is the Aguilar chapel is the "stake" center. I don't know what it's like at the other chapels in our district, but I don't imagine it's much better than the stake center chapel..  Lets just say there's a lot of work to do here.. Good thing Sister Cuenca and I like to work hard! ;D 

[What do you carry in your bag?] In my bag I carry my small travel size scriptures, a water bottle, my camera, white handbook, planner, pamphlets, and some other random things like my Lucky Lenny. (; [a small turtle charm. A tradition carried over from her brother's mission] 

Bambam, Fatema, Ryan, the cute Down's Syndrome boy
 no one knows the name of, and Myra Fe. (: 
[I noticed your umbrella.  Is it for shade? How often does it rain when its not the rainy season?] I actually don't usually carry my umbrella. I think I have maybe three times.. Haha. But yes, if I ever do it's for shade. It actually doesn't rain in Pangasinan (the Urdaneta mission). It's sprinkled for a couple minutes a few times, but that's about it. Unless there's a typhoid nearby [I think she means typhoon. haha] then it gets a little rainy and super windy.. But I LOVE IT! You know it's HOT when you're happy there's a typhoid [haha] going on near by. Haha. ;D

Anyway! I'm happy to let you know I have another baptism this Saturday! Ryan is super excited and that makes me extra excited! His wife is already a member, so she was a HUGE help in helping him have the desire to come to church. They have a super cute little boy named Bambam.. Yeah.. Haha! The kids here have the BEST names! ;D Fatema (Ryan's wife) and Ryan are both SUPER excited to go to the temple and be sealed together as a family. I'm just so excited for them. It's such a good feeling being able to teach families about the Plan of Salvation and the opportunity they have to live together as a family for eternity! 
Some new investigators Sister Naua and I found
 for Elder Garate and Elder Blanco during our district's blitz. 

Also.. Last night, as we were all getting ready for bed, I experienced my first power outage here (apparently that happens quite often). I thought I was going to die from heat not being able to use our fans. No joke, I was kneeling in bed dripping sweat. Although I was miserable for a while, it is my testimony that prayer works! I prayed so long and hard that Heavenly Father would help the power turn back on or at least help me cool down. And as I finally settled down to try and sleep, it got a little windy outside. (And we all know how wonderful wind is when we're sweaty.. It's like having our own personal air conditioner. ;D) I was SOOO happy for the smallest amount of wind. AND THEN the power came back on and my fan saved my life and I jumped up and ran around screaming "It's a Christmas miracle" and we all cried from happiness that our fans worked again. Haha. 

Did you know cashews grow on trees? I didn't.. Haha! 
I know that's a silly story.. But! The moral of the story is that God answers our prayers no matter how small or simple our struggles may be. "Ask and ye shall receive." But! It's also important to pray for comfort through our struggles. For example, when I prayed I asked for God to turn the power back on, but I also prayed that if that wasn't His will to at least help me feel comfortable enough to fall asleep. Our prayers may not always be answered in the way we want them to be, but we can ALWAYS receive comfort. We need to align our will with God's. It doesn't happen the other way around. 

Also.. I've reached the point in my mission that I can't speak correct English anymore [typhoid]. This is bad.. Really really bad.. Haha. I can't speak English OR Tagalog! D;

I love you!

** A note from Kelsey's companion, Sister Cuenca**

Good day Mr. and Mrs. Fivas!

That's pretty formal but yeah who could be more awesome than Sister Fivas than her parents! You have a wonderful daughter, she knows exactly why she is out here. I'm gonna take care of her for the last days i have in my mission. Don't worry she is in nice hands. hahah! although she chokes me all the time with her little hands. lol.

have a good day! :)