Sunday, March 30, 2014

Week 26 - meeting goals and cleaning the church

Week 26
SO good. Every week is so good these days. We started off with a really great zone con and then were able to teach like 75% of our lessons this week with members present which was awesome. Because of that, our investigators took huge steps in their conversion process. The other sisters had a baptism Saturday. Three of our investigators came and really felt The Spirit witness to them that they needed to be baptized. It got SUPER hot this week! 

On saturday we had the opportunity to clean our church building. We didn't tell any of the members and when we showed up to the baptism I was expecting everyone to notice but literally NO one noticed. I was a little sad. It is not cleaned very often at all, especially the way we cleaned it. So then as I was walking home from the baptism feeling frustrated that none of the members cared if the church was clean or dirty, i totally had an epiphany. I remembered something President said in his talk at zone conference about the sacrament. How we should never take it for granted again, especially after he chastised us all when he taught us the significance of the sacrament. I realized that the reason the members didn't notice was because it wasn't important to them. And I realized that about the sacrament for myself. The reason I had been taking it for granted was because it wasn't important enough for me. After the baptism on Saturday bishop asked the 4 of us to speak. So we had family prayer like we do every night with our ward mission leader and the ward missionaries to think of what our members needed to hear from us. We felt like we needed to teach Lesson 3- The Gospel of Jesus Christ. It went SO well. I was so grateful for the opportunity to prepare myself spiritually to teach my favorite topic- the laws of justice&mercy. 

So here's a joke- the zone leaders asked me to be in charge of our zone t-shirt because they heard i was artistic. I hope all of you laughed at that! Then I really started to miss pup. Where is she when I need her?! 

This week was so great, we found some new investigators we are really excited to teach! 3 of them are the mom and sisters of a member who is about to leave on a mission. We got to teach their family yesterday about faith. He bore such a powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel as he shared with his family his desire for them to be sealed in the temple. They are not yet members and it's been really hard on him. I was so grateful fore his strength and his faith. What an example to someone like me who comes from a family full of active members of the church. How grateful I am for my family!

Have a great week all!

Sister Gaspar de Alba

me and sister seastrand at zone con!

sister williams who is now in my zone. YES

this is probably my favorite elder of all time. He's the best! 

got to see some old friends from cabuyao!

this is like the filipino equivalent of a sonic slush. they have them everywhere now because it's so hot here! called a halo-halo. so good!

we deep cleaned the church on saturday. it took SO long! But it was so worth it.

we all spoke at church yesterday! ps- i totally found this shirt at an ukay-ukay here for 20 pesos.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Week 25 - Visionary people (not just whettens)

Week 25
This week we got punted a lot the first few days....rough. But we had some really great members willingly work with us which made a world of a difference for a few of our investigators. Transfers were last week so we have a whole lot of new missionaries in our zone. We saw them all at lunch on wednesday AND I'm super excited because Sister Williams is in my zone. She was so excited to see me, in fact, that she spilled a drink on me at McDonald's. Embarrassing. On Tuesday the office elders called us and let us know that we will be singing at zone con. WHAT. I said, Elder- you know there are people in this mission who can sing, right? that is not me! But of course I told them I would. So me and Sister Pajo, Sister Hopkins, and Sister Taufa are singing tomorrow for 100+ missionaries. I hope it's decent! This week the weather was SO weird. Got so hot on tuesday and wednesday and less on thursday. Then friday until today it's been freezing and raining. I totally got heat exhaustion on tuesday. (i think) That's what Sister Peterson told me. It was really interesting...i've never felt dizzy for 3 straight days. Thank goodness it is back to cold and rainy. 

Just one story for this week: 
 One of our investigators who has been progressing super quickly was stuck last week. So we prayed a whole lot and really thought about what to share with her. What kept coming to my ,ind was to ask her if she has received a definite answer that The Book of Mormon was true. Which i thought was weird because she is almost to 2nd Nephi in 3 weeks! And she cries talking about The Book of Mormon. But we brought it up anyway and she told us she hadn't asked because she feels it's true. We explained to her that's really good, but that she needs a definite answer so she can understand that this is Christ's church. We had such a great lessons with her, The Spirit really helped her understand Moroni's promise. One of our members also shared her experience knowing The Book of Mormon was true. She felt it's truth in a dream. I am super uneasy when people tell me they have visions and dreams here because they have them ALL the time. Filipinos always talk about visions they have of Mary and I just am pretty skeptical about it. But anyway- the lesson was good. Then we came back and asked this sister if she had received an answer. She told us of this dream she had where she was told in her dream that she needed to be baptized and go to church. That everything we were teaching her was true and she needed to show her faith through baptism. SO happy for her. I learned through this all that I need to have a little more trust in our Heavenly Father and remember that He answers our prayers in different ways. He really knows His children and he knows how to talk to them in the way that they need. 

Have a great week all! 
love, Sister Gaspar de Alba

this is me and my monkey friend. he's kind of mean when we don't have food for him.

excuse the YSA behavior...i live with a tongan sister! Lived with tongan sisters for like 5 months now. i LOVE islanders. 

a family in our ward we had FHE with last night. 

dang cute

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

surprise visit and balotapaloza

Week 24
This Week was PERFECT. But really- we had a great week. We had lots of miracles. Lots. I also hit 7 months this week...weird. Me and my comp had some solid heart to hearts this week and we reached almost all of our key indicator goals. YES. We also got a surprise visit from president Peterson at church yesterday which was literally the highlight of my week. I love him!

OH yeah. I ate balot this week! Well...I tried to. The video is hilariousm actually. Me and Sister hopkins were eating it first. So you have to crack open the egg, drink the juice which is like blood tasting then crack it all open and eat this baby duck who totally has feathers. I just kept telling myself to man up and eat it! So i stuffed the whole thing in my mouth and started chewing. Then gagging. I could not swallow it! Then i spit half of it out to see if that would work better...nope. still couldn't choke it down. So i tried to put it all back in my mouth which was a third fail. Then I tried eating it little by little but you can't really take that thing appart. The flavor wasn't as bad as i thought but man...that texture is WEIRD. I will win, baby duck. Some day. 

Okay so just one cool story this week. We got a new training plan that is all about helping our investigators attend sacrament meeting. Which is perfect- exactly what we all need! So those 2 people who came to church last week are now our investigators and they came to church again yesterday. WITH their families(: We had some amazing lessons with them. One of them- Sister Gloria has a son who is a teenager. When we taught them together he was super engaged and really felt The Spirit in the lesson. Then he totally lit up when we commited him to baptism. We asked him to give the closing prayer and he gave the most beautiful prayer. He prayed about The Book of Mormon and about what we had taught them about the plan of salvation. He also prayed about his baptism and he sounded so sincere and grateful. He said: Thank you for all this that i've learned, please help me and my mom to be baptized on april 12th and to be able to eventually go to the temple to be together forever. I literally started crying. We had taught him ONE lesson. One! They came to church yesterday and had a wonderful experience. He was very curious about passing and blessing the sacrament since he's priest-age. I just loved that experience. I love those two. OH! other cool thing...they could be baptized on april 5th and thats the date we planned to commit them to. Then when my companion was commiting them to baptism she paused before the date. And I said april 12th. so we are both like wait what? Then she starts crying and says: Sisters, that's my 59th birthday. You have given me the opportunity to be re-born on my birthday. Thank you so much. It was the coolest thing.

I loved this week. Every I just woke up so happy! And we had such a great week with our investigators. We had 6 come to church last week. That's 5 more than have come in the last 4 weeks! The bishop and everyone was so excited. Our Gospel Principles class was overfilled. Between that and President Peterson speaking my ward is super excited about missionary work. This happiness that I feel from bringing people the gospel is unlike any kind I have ever felt before. I feel like it's so much more rewarding. My love for my Savior has grown so much deeper as I have been able to see and feel a tiny bit of His love for the people in the philippines.

Love, Sister Gaspar de Alba

on our way home from the best sunday ever
made my comp a delicious papaya shake! (just like my dad)

my chewed up balot. sick, i know. can you see the feathers?!

cockroach,  they are super ugly here.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Week 23 (cue Twilight Zone music)

No wonder this week was so crazy- it's week 23. Lots of new adventures this week. The most interesting one was that me and my companion spoke at the funeral of a member of our ward. We went on exchanges this week and I got to learn from one of my closest friends, and one of the best sister missionaries here. We also did some more ukay-ukay shopping last p-day and found some killer deals on clothes from old navy from the 90's. Sweet.

First: exchanges. I LOVE exchanges. My companion was so nervous for her first one and I was actually pretty nervous too. The sister I went with is very no no nonsense. She tells it to me like it is, and always pushes me to work harder in every aspect of missionary work. The biggest thing I learned from her was to give a little more. In everything I do, just push a little farther. Especially when I am tired or when I think I have done my best. I have really been focusing on that the last few days and have really felt a difference in my outlook. Especially with this last week where it seemed like all of our golden investigators had huge trials hit them. I am so mentally and emotionally exhausted. But I feel like I am getting there. I have felt a stronger influence of The Spirit directing me and my companion in lessons. We have been able to really help and uplift our investigators despite all the the things they are going through. I am so grateful to be continually learning that I can always give more than I think. Because I need to be always giving my all to The Lord and His work.

We have a new investigator we taught on Tuesday for the first time. She is SO prepared! Seriously. She had a lot of concerns so we went into our second lesson a little unsure of how it would go. But it was such an amazing experience. She had read up to chapter 11 in 1st Nephi in like 3 days. And she had an amazing experience with praying to know if The Book of Mormon was true. Her eyes fill with tears every time we bring up The Book of Mormon. Yesterday we got to teach more of her family. She is so excited to be baptized with them all in April. Right now we are focusing on getting her husband to lessons.

Yesterday we had a cool experience at church. We have really struggled with getting investigators to church so we really prepared this sunday to pick people up and make sure they all felt welcome. So we have been praying and praying and praying! And then we go to church, and we brought one of our investigators. And we waited. And waited. No one came! sad. Heartbreaking. So I was totally bummed. Come to find out after church starts that 3 members brought friends to introduce to us and 1 lady just randomly shows up who has a member friend in my old area! WHAT. I know. Coolest answer. Even though our investigators did not come, we were able to meet and set appointments with some other people. One of the sisters who we sat by told me: Sister Gaspar, what is this feeling? I feel like this is the truth. I was like umm yes. You are ready to be baptized. We were so blessed with finding opportunities yesterday.

Last: The Funeral. So funerals here are really different, especially since everyone is super catholic. The keep the bodies of their deceased family members in their homes for a full week after they have passed away. And there's like a special shrine for them with flowers and pictures and many many crosses. The bishop asked my companion and I to give a talk about the plan of salvation since only 1 of this man's 7 grown children was a member of the church. My companion gave the most beautiful talk about Heavenly Father's plan for us. All of his kids eyes filled with tears when she spoke. Her mom passed away about 10 years ago, and she shared the things she has done in her life to be able to live with her again. She is the perfect example of being bold with love. She really brought the Spirit. We were able to sit and make appointments with some of them.

Have a great week all!
-Sister Gaspar de Alba

Sister Asuncion saved her last exchange for ME! I love her so much. She goes home tomorrow. We had such a blast together, and really good talks. You know someone's a good friend when they are always pushing you to reach your potential, even if you don't think you can. That's who she is for me. 

me and my anak washing our Bishop's curtains. We loved being able to serve their family. Plus all of their neighbors good a good laugh at me hand washing clothes. I'm to the point where it hurts a little that they don't think I know how to do it right.

walking to the funeral of one of our members. about a mile of this- one foot in front of the other. so fun!

me and a sister who was recently baptized. her sister in san antonio knows my aunt cynthia! small world, right?!