Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Everything is going to be OKKAAYYYY

Hello Family!  This week went by so fast!  I'm probably going to start off every weekly letter with that haha the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days!  I didn't believe it when friends on missions told me that, but it is so true! 

Well, this week was awesome!  We are teaching so many people, we have about 20-25 investigators, so we are constantly busy!  We have a baptism this week and we are so excited!  She is a referral from a member in the ward, and she has been such an amazing investigator.  So willing, wanting to learn more, and has been spiritually prepared by the Lord.  It will be my first baptism out here in the field and it will be my exact one month out in the field.  What an amazing way to celebrate by seeing someone enter the waters of baptism and make a covenant with the Lord.  Truly amazing.  I have  quick story to tell you.  So we went to her friends house who referred her because that is where we teach all the lessons to her.  When we looked at the member, Remi, we thought she looked like she was pregnant.  So we asked her, which I guess is not something rude to do here, and she said "no, I am not haha" (except it was in Tagalog) haha and then she went on to say that she thought she was but she went to the doctor or some fortune teller of some sort and they told her that she was not and perhaps a black witch cast a spell on her. It's more crazy here in the Philippines hahaha So after talking to her about it for a bit, she let us feel her stomach and let me just say, it was not a black witch spell, I was sure that she was pregnant.  She wasn't huge or anything, but there was a noticeable bump.  Anyways, we left it alone and went on to the lesson.  SO, we go over the next day to teach a lesson again and when we walk in...there was a BABY laying next to Remi! She had given birth that morning!  and oh boy was it tiny, they were thinking about 6-7 months along.  I could not believe it....I told her "I told you so!" haha  It is the cutest baby, and they both are doing well and happy.  Crazy story though!

So what else this week?  We had trainee/training meeting and that just changed my whole outlook on everything.  First off, I got to see my sisters from Provo MTC, and that was such a joyous reunion!  We cried, laughed, and were so happy to see each other, and we also realized that the hard times we were going through were what everyone was also going through.  So, it was nice to know that I was normal :)  haha Anyways, President Revillo gave a great talk to us about fear, overcoming trials, and to push through it and the ways to do it.  My favorite scripture he shared which is in Mosiah 23 is "They hushed their own fear because of their faith and the knowledge that the Lord would deliver them."  What I got from that was that it was not God who hushed their fears, but it was the knowledge and the faith that they had that helped them overcome those fears.  Another thing that really touched my heart was he asked "Could the Lord do this work without you?"  The answer is a clear YES!  God is powerful and if he could bring others unto Christ without out...BUT, he wants us to experience this because He loves us and has things in store that He wants to bless us with.  I'm not 100% sure of all those things that God has in store for me, I know some of them will be trials, tribulations, challenges, failures, heart aches, but I also know that there will be so much joy, happiness, success, and during the next 15 months of my mission the Lord is going to refine me into the person that he wants me to be.  I am learning to become grateful for the challenges that the Lord has placed in my path, because I know they are for my benefit in one way or another.  I left that meeting with a new outlook, and it  changed my whole entire week and I know that it will continue throughout my whole mission!  

Lastly, we had a miracle yesterday at church.  FOUR investigators came to church and they are golden :)  We barely ever have 1, so with four we are able to see the progress that is happening in this area, and seeing that God is placing people in our path who are prepared to learn the gospel.  I know that this gospel is true and I can see it changing lives every single day!  This work is amazing, and my calling is great!  Love you all so much!  

Few fun facts and events this week:  they have skin whitening lotion here...never heard of that.
 I had my first salad this week, Bishops wife made it! and I have a drink here called Zagu and it is amazing.  I have one every single day, mango flavor of course!  And...it continues to get hotter every single day!  Only about a month or 2 left of summer and I am so excited for rainy season to be here! haha

Fam-have so much fun in Florida, I wish I could be there with you, but I know this is where I need to be.  Love you all, take tons of pictures, and don't forget my harry potter wand :)  Love love love you!

Love, Sister Latham

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spiritually Uplifted

One more week down! It feels like forever...I'm waiting for that time to hit when they say it goes by fast hahaha With all the changes I have experience, it has been hard, not going to lie, but I'm pushing through it and trying to love every single minute!

The hardest part this week was having to drop people, people not progressing, and people not coming to church(so common for everyone here).  I have had to keep telling myself that I am doing all that I can to bring others unto Christ and the rest is up to them.  We were given free agency to use and as for some people we are teaching, it is just not their time right now.  I know that God has a time for everyone and we might just be planting the seeds in our area for someone to harvest later on.  We did though have two investigators at church which is awesome, and they really enjoyed it.  We watched conference this week and let me say, that was a spiritual boost that was really needed.  I'm so grateful for the words of the prophets that help us in all aspects of our lives.  As Brent H Nielson talked about having people close to you that choose to not accept the gospel, I could only think of the people here who are choosing to not accept our message.  I simply need to love them, pray for them, and again know that God has specific timing for them.

I also loved the Prophets talk about temples!  It  is so true that the church is growing.  It is such a blessing to be a part of this great work, especially here in the Philippines, and to have the opportunity to take investigators to the temple since it is in our mission.  I have not yet had the opportunity to do that, but I hope I do one day.  I'm so grateful for the peace, comfort, hope, and reassurance we can receive at the temple.  I wish I could go every single day.  We need to not take what God has given us for granted.  That was also said in another talk.  My other favorite talk was by David A. Bednar who spoke about fear.  He said, "If you fear, rely on the Lord and he will hush our fears."  I have experienced that so much on the mission here.  There are so many things here that are so out of my comfort zone, but through relying on Christ he has comforted me and been by my side the whole way.  I know that if I look to Christ, He will not let me fall and will be holding me up when I can not do so on my own.  I'm already excited for next general conference to receive more inspiring words from our leaders!  

As for some other things, I did not think it could get hotter here, but let me just tell you it keeps getting hotter and hotter!!  And it is going to continue...I'm excited for it to start raining haha I probably have about two more months of this heat and then we get to the rainy season.  

What else...oh we got our water bill for the month...$3 and electricity bill $10 and donuts are $0.04.  It is so awesome!!! 

I love it here, love the people, love this work, and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ!

Love you all,
Sister Latham  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Hastening the Work of Salvation

Hello family!!!

Well, since it has only been a few days there is not too much that has happened except for a lot of teaching, with a lot of those being new investigators that we have found!  The first family is the Ramos Family.  We met them about a week ago!  One day while we were walking to a really far area we saw this old lady sitting in a jeepney staying out of the heat.  We started talking to her, getting to know her, and since it was loud and she has a hard time hearing we set up a return appointment to come back to her house.  So the next day or so we went to their house which was really really nice and we met her daughter and grandson I believe, Lisa and Ferdie.  They are so sweet to us, always go and buy us drinks and food and they are so involved in the lessons.  When teaching the first lesson, they really understood why a restoration of the gospel was needed and they felt that our message was true.  Sister Lisa also went on to say that she believed we were a sign from God because she was looking for hope in her life due to her sister having stage 4 cancer.  She began to get emotional talking about it and knew that this gospel was an answer to her prayers.  After the lesson we extended the baptismal invite and she was so excited.  As for Ferdie, he said he needed to pray about it and we would check up with him at the next lesson.  So yesterday we had our next lesson with them and he said he is so excited to get baptized and they both have set baptismal dates for May 16th.  Sister Faasavalu and I are so happy for them and pray that they will continue to come unto Christ and learn of the truthfullness of this gospel!  The work here is amazing!

The ward here is awesome as well, they are so involved in missionary work.  For youth conference they had a mini MTC experience so President Trask from the Philippines MTC who I just love so much and is the best came and spent the day with them.  I also got to see him and it was the best, he gave me a little booster talk and then a hug.  He always hugs the missionaries haha  We then split up in groups with all the youth in the stake and went out tracting in our areas.  Just to make it short, our group got 53 referrals!!  Let's just say we have a lot of work to do this upcoming week to contact all of them.  We have already contacted a few and it went well.  So the picture of all the kids is my group that I went tracting with and President Trask is standing by me.  

This week has been a little different in the Philippines because it is holy week!  The people here are really devoted Catholics.  So to remember the sacrifice he went to, they themselves whip themselves on the back while going through the streets and their skin is all bloody.  I did not actually see it in person, but I saw a video and it was painful to watch.  In another city around here they actually drive nails through peoples hands and feet to a cross...I had no idea that anybody ever did this.  And there were a lot of parades that we saw with statues of Mary, Jesus in a coffin, people are chanting and singing.  It was something I had never seen before and I guess that is just a big thing they do in the Philippines.

This week I ate some pretty amazing food!  We went to Frank and Charles one night which is a burger place, we took Bishops wife and their son.  It was so yummy and really messy!  We kept grabbing napkins and then one of the workers brought a bunch a gloves to us....it was weird and I didn't use them but we just laughed about it cause it was so weird!  We have also had Pizza at Bishops, and a whole fish...like the WHOLE fish is placed on a plate.  It was yummy :)  and of course we had mangos :)))  

As for the typhoon that everybody has been talking about, it didn't hit us at all, we had really light rain every once in a while and then about 15 minutes of heavy rain and during that time we were in a member's house so we were good!  I wish it rained more, cause it's not as hot.  The heat here is killer.  I am surviving though :)  

As I have been struggling a little with the language, culture, some food, weather and everything else, there have been times when I have been discouraged.  As I read my Patriarchal blessing the other day, it brought so much comfort and hope.  It says in there that I will have the opportunity to be a strong missionary.  I noticed how it says the OPPORTUNITY.  It does not say I will be a strong missionary, it simply says opportunity, meaning that I have the choice to be that.  I then thought to myself, How can I do that when I don't even know the language.  However the next 2 sentences talk about how I need to develop the ability to bear testimony with love and understanding.  To be gentle and know that I can touch the hearts of those around me and lead them back to our Heavenly Father.  There is my answer.  I need to simply love the people I am around and I don't need to know the language to love them.  This is my new focus that I am going to work on, I know and have faith that the language is going to come over time, but as for now and always, I need to just love the people with all my heart.  

I love it here, I am having a blast!  Yes it is hard, but I know that I can do all things through the Lord.  I love you so so so much and pray for you everyday!  Mahal ko Kayo!

xoxo Sister Latham


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tay Tay Philippines and I'm loving every second!

Hey Fam, this past week and a half has been so crazy with a new area, new companion, sweating more than I have ever sweat before, and working harder than I ever have in my life!  I love it, there are hard times, but I am pushing through it!  There are so many things I want to write about but I will try and keep it short!

I have been assigned to TayTay 1st ward, it is so gorgeous when you get away from the main roads!  I have to cover my face on the main roads because there is so much smog and it's just gross and I don't really like breathing that in hahaha  

My companion is Sister Faasavalu, she is from Hawaii and is absolutely amazing, I love her!  She has been here for about 14 months and I pray that she will stay with me throughout all my 12 weeks training!

Our house is pretty nice, it's just my companion and I that live there but two other sisters live in the next apartment.  There are ants everywhere and some cockroaches that we have had to end up killing.  I killed one in the MTC which was fun, there is a video on the Dropbox website that I will send the link.  

The food here is really good!  I love the Lumpia, it is my favorite.  The ward missionaries in our ward are almost all teenagers and they got me to eat balut on my first day out i!!  Thought I was going to throw up a few times but I got it down :)  THE MANGOS AND BANANAS HERE ARE TO DIE FOR!!!  I cannot wait to bring you guys back here to eat all the yummy food.  It is delicious!  

The work here is really progressing, we have had I think about 8 people set a baptism date which is awesome and we are so excited!  The hardest part is not knowing the language and wanting to talk to them so badly, but the language is starting to come and I can kind of follow the conversation now.  The problem in this area though is that so many people will agree to baptism but then won't go to church...kind of a big problem haha  They are really strong catholics and this week is holy week so that's also another problem we have run into, but people are still willing to talk to us especially when they see my bright red face and want to take me in and offer me water.  Haha

I can't even begin to tell you how many stares I get a day, how many little kids come up to me to touch my skin and how many guys say "Hello beautiful.." That part is a little creepy, but the rest is great! The kids are the cutest, they always call me Elsa and point at their Elsa shirts!  I love them.  
Bishop's family has really taken Sister Faasavalu and I into their family.  Two of their kids always come out and teach with us and they feed us as well.  Dad, bishop really reminds me of you-sarcastic, loving, and funny!  And the mom is always taking care of us and goes shopping with us.  The stuff here is so cheap, dresses for $4! In the pic at the temple I am wearing a new dress I got.  It's nice to have the grocery store and things around here, but also have the gorgeous areas that are green with lots of mango trees and coconut trees, best of both worlds :)
The people here are just the best! Humble, happy, caring, loving, and very family oriented.  I see how little these people have and how happy they are.  I'm excited to be able to serve these people for the next 16 months :)  I know it will be the hardest thing I have ever done, but the most rewarding.  Tell everyone I love them back home and feel of their love, prayers, and support.  Also, sorry to everyone who I could not email back, when I logged on I had 45 emails....I love you all!!

love from the Philippines, Sister Latham

Remember: CTR-Choose the Rice, Cook the Rice :)