Thursday, August 27, 2015

Going through the extremes!

Hello Family and Friends,

It has been a wonderful week here in Quezon City :)  I'm loving life as a missionary, loving the work, the people, and I'm even putting up with all of the "unwanted friends" in the apartment. hahaha

So just a few quick things that have happened this week
1) the other night I went downstairs right before bed to put something in the fridge, and when I switched on the light, I saw 4 mice in the sink jumping around, and about 6 cockroaches crawling around the kitchen.  Had this been the first time I had seen a mouse crawling, I would have screamed, but instead I took a few steps backward up the stairs and just yelled for Sister Duque to come downstairs and help me.  The mice were stuck in the sink and could not get out, so we had no idea what to do.  Sister Duque just sat and cried on the stairs haha while I called the DL and asked what we should do hahaha The advice from the DL was to first "throw some alcohol in the sink and light them on fire." I quickly decided that that was not a good idea. and then the second advice was "go and drown them" and then I said there was no way I was getting close to them. So I tried spraying permethrin on them from far away, that did not we decided to just leave them and see if they would be gone in the morning.  Thank goodness, they were gone in the morning, not gone from the apartment, because we still hear them, but they are at least not in our sink anymore.  

2) The aparment we really wanted was taken by someone else so we need to begin looking again, so the likelihood of us moving before I transfer is really small, but I'm still going to keep looking so that the future missionaries don't have to experience what we have been experiencing haha 

3) I ate chicken blood for the first time, and it was actually pretty good.  Family, when we come back you will have to try it :)

4)WE FOUND A JAMBA JUICE and KRISPY KREME! When I saw it from afar, I almost about ran and immediately told Sister Duque that I have to get some, and it was delicious :)  

So, I experienced a lot of new things this week, it is all exciting and I guess all part of the experience and life as a missionary here in the Philippines :)

We have some wonderful things coming up this week, we have the baptism of Sister Marechel, the sister who is deaf, cannot read, and cannot do sign language :)  We had her interview on Friday and it was a bit tough for our district leader to conduct the interview, but we were there to help him and she passed.  Marechel is so amazing, we gave her the Book of Mormon about 2 weeks ago and even though we thought she can't read it, we gave it to her to have.  But, when we went to her one day, she brought out her Book of Mormon and had read till Alma!  I don't think she understands a lot of what she is reading, but it is clear that she can feel the Holy Ghost while she reads and it testifies to her of the truthfullness of the Book of Mormon.  I am so excited for her to get baptized this upcoming week, she has been preparing so well and is so excited.  

We also found two new investigators who have been prepared at this time to accept the gospel.  They immediately came to church this past sunday, are reading the Book of Mormon, praying every day, and are already participating in church activities.  Hopefully we will have a few more baptisms coming up in September :)

The church is true, God and Jesus Christ live, and they have a plan for us to return back to them and that plan is only possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Throughout these past few months, my testimony has grown so much about the Atonement that Jesus Christ did for each and every one of us.  I know that had Jesus Christ not atoned for our sins, we would not be able to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.  I love sharing with people about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and inviting them to use it every day in their lives, to change and become like our Savior, to follow his example by entering the waters of baptism by someone who holds the power to do so.  That is my message that I am blessed to be sharing with the people here in the Philippines.  I love my calling :) Sending my love and prayers to all of you :)

Love, Sister Latham

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Kingdom of God is Growing here in Quezon City : )

Hello Family,
It has been a wonderful week here in Quezon City!  Wonderful and busy busy busy!  It is so true that when you are busy, time just flies!  

So, Edna was baptized this past Saturday and it was wonderful :)  This was Sister Duque's first investigator in the field to be baptized and was such a wonderful experience for her.  Sometimes Sister Duque struggles with homesickness, which is completely normal, but I kept telling her to just wait till she saw Edna enter the waters of baptism and then she would realize how it was all worth it.  And that is what happened.  I experienced the same thing as well in my first area.  A lot of times I wanted to give up, I missed you all, I missed the convenciences of life back at home, everything; however, when I saw my investigators get baptized, all of the tears, homesickness and pain went away.  It all is so worth it :)

This week we also had the opportunity to go and do service at the Childrens Hospital here in the city.  We sang, read children stories to them, gave them candy, and left a little doll behind for them.  The ones that we gave service to were those that were going through Chemo at the time.  It was so sad, and my heart ached for them, but we were able to lift them and their families spirits a little bit :)  
My companion and I also experienced a wonderful miracle this week and an answer to prayer.  We have had to drop a lot of investigators because they are not progressing, and are now looking for new investigators, specifically families.  So my companion and I have been praying and praying to find families that we can teach.  So the other morning, we were punted by our investigator and decided that we would take the time to go and find some families to teach.  We prayed about where we should go and in just about 1 hours time, we found three amazing families who are very potential.  They are interested in our message and very willing to listen to the message we have to share with them.  We have plans to go back to them this week and hopefully they will begin to progress.  Our prayers were answered :)

Also, our investigator who is deaf, can't read, can't speak, and does not know sign language will be having her interview this week.  She is so amazing, I have no words to describe.  My companion and I put in a lot of effort to plan for her lessons.  We draw visual aids for her and practice teaching so that when it comes time to teach, the lesson is simple, clear, and she understands it.  Up to this point, she is really understanding the principles. We taught Law of Chastity this week and you would think it would be impossible to teach it, but we did and she understands.  However, the most important thing that we realized was that the Holy Ghost is the real teacher in our lessons.  I know she feels the spirit so strongly in the lessons and that the Holy Ghost is testifying the truth of our message to her.  Having the Holy Ghost in the lessons is the most important and I have realized that even more through teaching Marachel :) I love her!

So family, that is just a little bit of my work this week, missionary life is wonderful and I love it!  I sure love you all and thank you for all of your support you have given me!  Love you

-Sister Latham

Monday, August 10, 2015

The City is Keeping Me Busy!

Hello family!  We have had a wonderful week here in Quezon City!  It is busy, crowded, and always go go go, but I love it :)

First off, we have a baptism this week! Sister Edna :)  She is just the sweetest lady and so ready to get baptized.  Her daughter has been a member for over 10 years and she has finally come to accept the gospel into her life and we are so excited for her. She even worked with us yesterday as we went to visit another one of our investigators who is deaf, doesn't know how to do sign language or read, but she has one of the biggest hearts.  A less active referred her and her mom to us and for now we have been teaching the daughter.  You are probably thinking on how we teach her this, and let me tell is so hard hahaha but it has actually gone really well.  We have taught her word of wisdom and the plan of salvation and she understands it.  We usually use visual aids and our hands to explain things, but sometimes we have to get up and act things out...For example, when teaching the word of wisdom and talking about alcohol, she did not understand until I got up and walked all wobbly and pretended to hit my head against the side of the house hahahaha I know I looked like an idiot, but at least she got the point!   She comes to church every week and is excited for her baptism which is planned for August 29th :))

We also had another blessing this week.  My companion and I were walking to an appointment and I saw this lady and her granddaughter.  I started to talk to them, and a lot of the times when we try to talk to people they just seem annoyed and they give short answers, but this lady was so happy to talk to us, she was so open, and was so excited when we asked if we could come and share a message with her one day.  So, we set a planned appointment and on that day we went to her house and she immediately welcomed us into her home, introduced us to her family, gave us some food, and said that she had been waiting for this day to come.  As we shared the message of the restoration of the gospel, I saw something happen.  It says in preach my gospel that the message of the restoration will sometimes have a  familiar ring to our investigators.  I saw that as we taught this message, it sounded familiar to her, almost a realization that this was not the first time she had heard it.  The Holy Ghost works this way, where it reminds us of things that we have once heard.  I know that everyone who has come to this earth, knew of Heavenly Fathers plan before they came here and were aware of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that would happen.  As we pulled out the Book of Mormon and began to talk about how the Book of Mormon is evidence of the truthfulness of this gospel, she began to say, "Sister, can I please have that book.  I want to read it to better understand your message, and find out for myself it is true or not."  When we gave it to her, she even put it in a plastic case to take care of it while she is at work.  I pray that this sister will continue to progress, and that she will put in the effort to come to church.  Right now, she is working, but hopefully over time her testimony will become so strong that she is willing to do what she needs to come closer unto Christ through baptism.  A miracle :)

This week, we also had my 6 month celebration!  And we really made it a celebration with balloons and a cake hahaha It was so fun, but I also want to tell you all how wonderful these past 6 months have been.  I've experienced so many life changing experiences.  I've had challenges, frustrations, trials, but i've seen miracles, I've seen lives change, and the biggest change that I have seen here on my myself.  I've truly let the power of the Atonement take place in my life and let Heavenly Father mold me into the person that He wants me to become, who he NEEDS me to become.  And I know that it doesn't stop here, He still has more sculpting to do, I still have so many weaknesses and faults that I need to overcome, but I know that I can do that when I truly humble myself before Him and say "Here I am, I will do what you want me to do, I will forget about myself, I will leave behind everything, I will just go and do."  I can say this without a doubt that serving a mission is the best decision I have made so far in my life.  It is one of the hardest, but one of the best things I have experienced so far.  I know that all of my family and friends have helped me up to this point in preparing me to serve a mission, now I have 18 months to live it, and an eternity to look back on and I am going to give it my all :)

I love you all,
-Sister Latham

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Reaching 6 months! :)

Hello Everyone!
It has been a wonderful past few days in my first area. My companion, the members, investigators are just wonderful!  However, there is just one thing that I was not expecting...but we will get to that later! Hahaha

So, I told you all last week that I would be my companions first senior companion, well...that was wrong. I found out on the taxi ride to the apartment that she was still in training and that I would be continuing her training for the next 6 weeks.  So I guess I am now training! I was a bit shocked and nervous at first, but it has been going really well, and I love training :)  Sister Duque's first trainer was Sister Anderson, my friend here on the mission!  She just finished her mission!  

So, my area is all city, very different from my last area, but I still love it :)  One of our main areas is Cubao.  I know that Quezon City is really big so if you want to look up where I am, try searching Cubao.  The members here are so wonderful, our investigators are really progressing, and our less actives are beginning to become active again :)  Edna, one of our investigators, will be getting baptized on August 15th and then we have a few more coming up!  The hardest part is that we have investigators coming to church, but they are busy all the time with work, that it is hard to find time to teach.  But, the Lord has a way and we are going to help them progress towards getting baptized!  Then, one of the less actives is the Trinidad Family, and they are so sweet!  The dad has been a member since the 80's, but his wife became a member a few years ago.  The missionaries have been visiting them for a while but they would still never come to church.  But, my first lesson with them, they told us in the beginning that they would be coming to church this sunday, and they did!  It was so wonderful to see them walk into the chapel and see members faces light up as well when they saw that they had returned to church :)  I will continue to put in all my effort into this area and bring more unto Christ. I am grateful that Heavenly Father has assigned me to this area, ward, and to my companion to help us strengthen one another!
So, back to what I brought up in the beginning.  So before I went on my mission, I had ideas about what the mission would be like, how my apartment would be, the lifestyle, and when I was in my first apartment, I was shocked at how nice it was.  Then, knowing I was coming to the city, I was told that we would have even nicer apartments, and I have seen one house of the missionaries that is really nice that is close to our area.  So,  when I saw the apartment, it looked really nice, 2 stories, big bedrooms, couches, living room area.  Well, I was mistaken. haha  We have rats (I have seen 3 run across my room, cockroaches(they are everywhere and poop everywhere), bed bugs..., our toilet is not working well, and we have bucket real shower in this apartment.  So I experience this all for a day, and then I decided that we should text the ZL's and ask for permission to look for a new apartment.  So, on Sunday President and Sister Revillo came to our church and then went to the apartment, and they said that it was not safe and that they want us to start looking for a new apartment!! YAY, so now we are looking at some apartments, we are going to see the inside of two today so hopefully before next transfer we will be moved out and not have to deal with mice, rats, and cockroaches!  As for now, we will just keep working hard, and praying that we can make it another month or so in this apartment :) hahaha

Thank you family for all your support and everything these past 6 months!  It's crazy that I am 1/3 of the way done!  I reach my 6 months on tuesday, which is also Samantha's birthday!  Samantha, it is a day of celebration :) I love you so much family, I am so grateful to be serving in Quezon City now, it is wonderful! 

Love, Sister Latham