Thursday, May 28, 2015

"Sister Latham, you need to practice patience"

Hello Family!  So great to receive all these emails from you and hear about how you are doing!  Sounds like you all are doing really well :) Great news to hear :)  This week has been really good, difficult but good!  The quote above was from my mission President during mission interviews.  He said that I am too impatient with myself and that I need to just trust in Heavenly Father and let the language come.  That is definitely the hardest thing in the mission-being patient with myself.  Patience is so important though, and I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can change and develop the Christlike attribute of patience.  Meeting with President was just the best.  He knows exactly what to say, how to hush my fears, and give me advice on ways that can help me become the missionary and person that God wants me to become :)  

As for the work in our area this past week, it was a bit difficult.  We got punted like all week, none of our plans were working out, but we still founds miracles throughout the week and we know that our work was not wasted.  We were able to OYM a lot, have lessons with new people, and see their desires to learn more.  We are focusing more on the people around the church, the middle class, which is more difficult but we are starting to find people who will listen and participate in the lessons.  

It also rained this week again, at night, and of course Sister Makaneole and I went outside and played around in the water for a bit.  It is so nice when it rains because it finally gets cool!  It rained throughout most of the night I believe and I had the BEST sleep!  It was finally not deathly hot!  They keep saying that it will rain more in middle of June.  I guess that there is supposed to be an earthquake soon here, I'm a little bit scared for that, but I know that we will be taken care of and the Lord will watch over us and protect us :)  

This week I studied a lot about why I was here, my goals in life, and how fear gets in the way.  I was brought to the talk by David A Bednar from last General Conference, my favorite talk from that conference.  I wrote down all my fears and then how Heavenly Father will hush those fears or ways to overcome those fears.  I was amazed that for every single fear I had..there was always a solution whether it be through His promises in the scriptures, through modern day prophets words, or through special blessings from our Heavenly Father specifically for us(Patriarchal Blessing).  This one scripture brings me so much comfort-"Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not."  If we look unto Christ in all things we do, he will hush our fears, he will calm us, reassure us, comfort us, encourage us, lead us, and encourage us.  I know that through our Savior, Jesus Christ, we can do ALL things if we have faith and trust in Him.  I'm so grateful for my Savior, I know that He lives and that He loves us.  I know that through His Atonement we can be forgiven and given another chance in this life to become like Him.  I know that it is never to
late to come unto Him, never to late to change, and never to late to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ into our lives.  He is always reaching out for us, we simply just need to let Him in.   I know that this gospel blesses lives, individuals and families.  I know that it is true with all my heart, and I am grateful to share this message with my brothers and sisters in the Philippines!  

I love you so much family, keep working hard, loving everybody that comes in your path, and spread the light of Christ with those around you!

Sister Latham

P.S. Sister Makaneole and I decided to have some fun with the makeup we had and this was our creation! haha

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage and...souls to save"

And another week has passed! Hello family! This week has been so great! I still think about last monday and skipping with you all, such a great experience and a boost for me to continue pushing through and working hard!

So, last monday after skyping Sister Makaneole and I went to get manicures and pedicures as a little treat for Mothers day!  That is at least our excuse haha and it was only about 6 dollars and it was such a nice pedicure.  They were scrubbing our feet for FOREVER though cause there was so much dead skin.  As a joke we were saying "It is snowing in the Philippines!" haha 

Then on Wednesday we had sisters conference where all the sisters from the mission come together and we just have fun, learn about each other, and become more unified as sisters in the mission.  We played games, watched a movie about a sister missionary, learned about each others cultures, ate, and had a clothes swap.  It was a bonding experience and I got to meet so many sisters that I had not yet met.  Such a fun day!  

On Saturday, we had two more baptisms!! :) The children of Cecil, who was baptized a few weeks ago, they were baptized and they were so happy.  One of the sweetest experiences so far was seeing Racel, who is twelve, walk into the font, look at me, and give me the biggest smile ever. She then looked at her mom who was sitting by us, and I've never seen both of them look as happy before!  I'm so grateful for the opportunity to see miracles like this happen, not only at baptisms, but EVERY SINGLE DAY of my mission.  The people here are just amazing and I'm loving the work! 

Another miracle this week happened yesterday!  We have been teaching this couple Lope and Glenda, and Lope has been very very interested and has attended church 5 times now, but his wife would never come to church.  She would promise and then would end up saying that she was busy and had work.  So, yesterday we walk into church and we see both of them, seated together, and when they saw us they both had the biggest smiles!  Lope was so happy to have her there with him and she was so happy!  Then when we turned around, we saw our other investigator, Totoy, and he was sitting there quietly reading his Book of Mormon.  And then, James, the one who was baptized on Saturday, brought a friend to church and we ended up teaching him later on that day and he accepted a baptism date and we also taught a lesson to his family that went really well!  

Funny story real quick:  we were walking to Bato Bato which is where James and his friend live, and it is so steep, so rocky and so slippery with mud.  I almost fell a few times!  But Catherine, Cecil's niece was holding my hand all the way up.   She is only 9 and then there is me who is scared to death, but she helped me all the way up! She is just the sweetest! 

Then last night, we were teaching Nicole who will be getting baptized in 2 saturdays, and we were teaching about Law of Tithing and Law of Fast.  When we asked her what she knew about it, she pretty much taught us the whole lesson, and that is not the first time! She is so amazing!  Then she told us that she had actually paid her tithing earlier at church...our jaws dropped a little bit! She is so prepared for baptism, and it has been such a great opportunity to be able to teach her!  

This week, we also focused on finding new investigators to teach to expand our pool to teach, and we were really successful in doing so.  The Lord put in our path many people who have been prepared to hear the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   

As President Thomas S. Monson said "There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save."  I love being a part of this great work and being an instrument in the Lord's hand.  I want to add, that so many members here are working hard also to bring their friends and family to Christ, and it works!  Don't be afraid to invite others and bear your testimony.  Simple things will plant a little seed in their heart and you will never know how big that seed will grow unless you plant it :)  I love you all so much, thank you for all your support, love, and prayers!  Till next week family! Love you all!

-Sister Latham

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Happy Birthday and Mothers Day from the Philippines!!

Hello Family! It was so amazing to see all your wonderful faces, and hear your lovely voices on Skype this morning! You all boost me up so much and I am so grateful for the love and support you are giving me out here. I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful family who I love more than words can describe. You all have had such an amazing impact on my life and I'm so grateful. I thank my Heavenly Father everyday for you! These next few months are going to go by so fast and before you know it I will be talking to you at Christmas! Love you so so so much!

Happy Mothers Day and Birthday to you Mom!  Thanks for all you do for me and the family, God blessed us with the best of the best, and that is you 

As for my week, we had a wonderful week!  Sister Faasavalu was transferred, and I stayed here in good ole' TayTay and I am so excited to be here for at least another transfer.  I love this area, the people, the ward members, and the work here is progressing so much!  My new companion arrived on Wednesday, Sister Makaneole and she is absolutely the best! She is so sweet, encouraging, and we get along so well!  We are really alike in a lot of ways, love Nordstrom, shopping, dancing, and music...but that will all just have to wait till after the mission! haha 

When we got back to our area after transfers we went right to work!  I showed her around the area and we had some lessons with investigators and Sister Makaneole brought so much light, and strong spirit into the lessons.  I'm so grateful to have her as my new companion and I am so excited for this upcoming transfer!  

As for the work, we have really great investigators who are progressing!  Two of our investigators are getting baptized this upcoming Saturday, Cecil's two kids!  Cecil has been helping us in teaching the lessons and her excitement about the gospel is so touching.  She has a new light that she shines, and she truly loves this gospel.  It's amazing how when we are teaching our investigators, they end up teaching us such wonderful things about life.  I know that I will not only be able to see people experience conversion, but I myself am experiencing a personal conversion every single day!  I'm so grateful for all the amazing people that I have met while being out in the mission so far..and it's only been one transfer out in the field, with many more to come and I am so excited!  

This week we went to one of our far areas, we only go there once a week, and it was our last time we were going to visit if our investigators were still not progressing.  When we went to our investigator we taught about prayer and scripture study.  She read Moroni 10:3-5 and she understood all that she had to do to gain a personal testimony about the Book of Mormon.  After following the spirit on questions to ask her, and scriptures to share, and lastly bearing a strong testimony about the Book of Mormon and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she was truly touched by the Spirit.  She said that she felt as if Christ was in the room and she said it is because of you and your message.  She accepted a baptism date, but said that she still needs to pray for an answer to see if it is true or not.  We told her that we truly want her to find out for herself if it is true and to read that promise again given in Moroni 10:3-5 that if she prayers sincerely and asks Heavenly Father if it is true, her prayer will be answered.  We invited her to say the closing prayer, and it was so heartfelt and sincere.  She prayed to know that if it was true.  She was so in tune with the spirit and at the end of the lesson she said that she felt really hot inside and that she felt really light.  We explained to her that that was the answer to her prayer, and the Holy Ghost testifying to her that the message we shared is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Christ's true church on the earth today.  Seeing experiences like this are my favorite part of the mission.  To see people accept the gospel and to feel and know of the truth of this great message we are sharing with the world.  I'm blessed to be an instrument in the Lord's great work on the earth today!
One more thing!  It finally rained! alot!! and Sister Makaneole and I just went out and let the rain fall on us, and it was the best!  For once here in the Philippines I felt cold!  I soaked it all in and then the next was hot again! haha  It's the little things here that bring so much happiness :)  

Again, it was so great to see you all today, I love you so much!  Thank you for all the prayers and support!

xoxo Sister Latham

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things" Alma 26:12

Hello Family, wow 3 months in the field already!  I see miracles everyday that the Lord has given me and I am so grateful to be out here serving the people of the Philippines and also my Heavenly Father.  It says in Alma 26:12

"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

 I love this scripture!  We went on exchanges this week with the STL's and Sister Avila had me read Alma 26 and this particular scripture really touched me.  I have a testimony that this work is impossible without the Lord's help.  There is no way that I could do this without relying completely on Him.  He has placed miracles in my path everyday, he has brought Tagalog words to my mouth that I myself did not know, he has given me the energy to get through the days when I thought that I could not get through, and he has comforted me at all times of struggle, trials, and tribulations.  It's an amazing opportunity to see these miracles that God has given me.  One thing that I have truly been blessed with is the language, it has really improved in the last weeks and I can understand a lot of what people say.  Speaking is much harder, but I know that that will come over time!  Many things to be grateful for :)   
so here are a few of my miracles of the week!

Here are a few:  This week we got to see another investigator enter the waters of baptism, and we also had 2 other investigators attend the baptism.  It's a special sight to see someone take upon themselves a covenant and become sin-free.  I'm grateful also for the Lord's timing on this specific investigator because we got to teach him the lessons and he was able to get baptized just in time before he left for work abroad in Dubai.  His testimony is strong, and he has a desire to work his hardest to be able to enter into the Lord's house when the time comes.  Such a blessing to be able to attend his baptism.  

Also, we have a recent convert of about 2 months, she is 12 years old and always comes to church and activities, but is also the only one in her family that are members.  I was not able to teach her the lessons but as from what I've been told her family was never interested, especially her parents.  But, this week when we went to visit her, her mother and father joined in on the lesson, were very active in the lesson, and even accepted a baptism date.  It goes to show that the Lord has specific timing for everyone and this might be their time :)  Their daughter has been such a wonderful example of being true to her faith and having a strong testimony that I think her parents have seen how important the gospel is to her in her life.  

There are so many miracles but I want to share one more:  Sister Cecil Coronel who was baptized a few weeks ago, her two kids have begun to start taking the lessons, attending church, and they will be getting baptized in 2 weeks!  This family is just so sweet, and they are already so involved in the church.  They are coming to practices for the primary, for her daughter she is attending young women activities, and they sacrifice money, which they don't have a lot of, to get their whole family to church.  They can see the blessings already in their lives though from the sacrifice that they are making to come closer unto Christ.  
I'm loving this area so much, and the Lord truly has brought "many mighty miracles" into TayTay!  
Lastly, we got transfer calls this morning and I will be staying in the area, but Sister Faasavalu will be going to Pasig and will be an STL!  I am so happy for her and I know she will be amazing!  I'm excited to meet my new companion and continue to see the daily miracles here in TayTay for at least another transfer.  I love you all so much, I'm so excited to talk to you on mother's day!!  If possible mom and dad, have nicole and noelle on facetime on your phones!  I'm excited to see your lovely faces.  I know that there will be tears, but they will be tears of joy! Love you!

-Sister Latham

p.s I had an amazing strawberry smoothie the other day and I would count that as a miracle for the day :) haha

ONE month, ONE baptism, ONE purpose

Hello Family! As of yesterday I have been in the field for one month!  So crazy! I can't tell if it has gone by fast or slow yet. haha the days are forever but before I know it, it is already P-day!  Well, we had a very fun week this week! Let me tell you about it :)

First off, we had our first baptism this week!  Cecil Coronel, sweetest lady and a member from our ward introduced the gospel to her.  She was so excited for her baptism and her smile showed it :)  She has the sweetest spirit and the light of Christ shines in her.  When I saw her come up out of the water my heart was filled with joy.  There is nothing better to see than that.  To see someone accept the gospel and to make a sacred covenant with their Heavenly Father is the best thing.  It was also amazing missionary experience because all of her kids came and they want to be taught the gospel and be baptized, and also two of our investigators came to the baptism.  One of them, Lawrence, will be getting baptized this upcoming week and he is so excited! The work is truly progressing and we are seeing miracles every single day.

 This week we also had zone conference.  It was again great to hear from President Revillo and his wife.  I always leave a meeting that he speaks at with such peace, comfort, and reassurance that I can do this!  One thing that he talked about was truly being a consecrated missionary.  To leave everything behind.  It says in Luke 18:28 "Lo, we have left all, and followed thee."    I physically have left everything behind at family, friends, education, culture, but I have not yet let everything emotionally behind and that is something that I am going to start working on, to become a fully consecrated missionary.  I know that it is going to take some time but I know that through prayer and relying on the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ I can do it.  We talked about what was the driving, motivating force to become a consecrated missionary.  The answer is the Savior and His atonement.  If we truly understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we will be willing to leave everything behind to bring others unto Christ, to partake of the saving power of the Atonement, and to come closer to Christ.  My goal for this week is to study the Atonement really thoroughly to help me become a fully consecrated missionary.  

That night, I also got to go out on splits with Sister Anderson, Jordan Lee's cousin that I had talked to before my mission.  She is the sweetest thing ever and we had so much fun going out and talking with people.  She only has about two months left so I'm so grateful I got to go out and work with her.  Also that night we stayed at their apartment because we had to go to the hospital the next morning for Sister Faasavalu. Sister Weston from the Provo MTC also lives at their apartment so it was fun to be with her for a while as well.  The next day we spent most of the day at the hospital cause the wait was forever, but after there was a restaurant across the street that was like Pluto's where you pick your own toppings for a salad! I was so excited!  I miss salads so much and I was so grateful to have a delicious salad :)  A little taste of home!  Also Bishop bought me California milk!  I could not believe that they had that here, and it was delicious of course!  I cherish those times that I get to have some food that I would eat back at home!  The food here is delicious too though, and I'm getting used to eating rice all the time, and it actually tasted delicious now!  I got tired of it for a little bit of time.

What else,  we also participated in National Service Day, or Mormon Helping Hands and that was way fun!  We helped clean up a school and then we went to lunch after :)

Thanks for the Easter package family!  I love the food and the headbands are adorable!  I was so excited to receive it, but I was not aware that it would be that expensive to send a package!  So expensive!  You don't have to send me anymore packages haha if anything I'll just go out and buy stuff here cause it will be way cheaper haha but thank you for the package anyways, I loved it!  

I also experienced my first rain storm and it was awesome!  I wanted to just go out and jump in it without an umbrella, but we had to work so that was not allowed! haha but it made me excited for the rainy season!

Lastly, family I hope you have a blast in Florida!  Wish I could be there with you, but that just means we have to go again when I get back! haha Dad, what an awesome experience to be able to go back to where you served and see people again that you met there.  Have a blast in Harry Potter world and soak it all in, it's amazing! Love you all so much!