Monday, December 30, 2013

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (Did you guess the title of this post correctly?)

This week has been a long one full of excitement! We had Christmas, obviously, and I ate A LOT of spaghetti! That's the staple Christmas food here! It's sweeter than American spaghetti and it's really good but I think I've had enough to last me until next Christmas! 

I loved all the presents I got! We did an apartment gift exchange and it was really fun. We also had a sleepover Christmas Eve night. We put mattresses on the floor in one of the rooms and all 4 of us slept there. When we woke up, we opened our presents and had Tongan pancakes and banana bread in bed! It was glorious! :) I got my companion a shield and as soon as she opened it, I drew out the sword that went with it and pretended to attack her. It was pretty funny!
En garde!
My birthday was eventful, too! I have a cut on my ankle and it got infected. Overnight, it swelled up and turned black and purple!! It didn't look like it was getting any better so we called Sister Quierdo. 

She told us to go to the HOSPITAL!! I really don't want to see what hospitals are like here, so I was a little hesitant. I asked if there was anything else we could do. We decided to email a picture of my ankle to President Quierdo and then he would forward it on to a doctor in Manila. The doctor told me some drugs to buy and to keep my foot elevated whenever I was sitting. If it wasn't better in three days. I was to call Sister Quierdo again. But never fear, because it's getting a lot better and doesn't even hurt anymore! That night, though, I didn't want to roll around and diselevate (Is this a word? You know what I mean!) my foot so I came up with the genius idea of pinning my pillow edges together around my head. It actually worked! 
Love the nightgown, Grandma!
I was so happy...until I had to pee! I didn't want to go through the trouble of unpinning and repinning it, so I just lifted myself up and went off to the bathroom. Luckily, all the other sisters were still up and could witness and document the sight!

We also had a gift exchage at our Missionary Coordination Meeting. 
The guy in the middle is our Branch Mission Leader. He is awesome! His name is Kuya Noel (Kuya actually means older brother.) He loves telling us stories about his mission and is super supportive of our work!

There was a baptism this week, too! The Elders baptized a whole family. 
If you look at the picture closely you'll see that the older lady is wearing pajamas! They are the plush kind with matching top and bottom. I think she thought it was a nice outfit but it gave me a good chuckle! I love going to baptisms because I feel the Spirit so strongly there. I can feel the testimonies of the people being baptized grow as they experience the clean feeling of knowing that their sins have been washed away. I love doing the Lord's work here in the Philippines! 

I love you all, too, and hope you are enjoying this Christmas season!

Love,
Sister Miller

Monday, December 23, 2013

Google Hangout -- The Best Christmas Gift EVER!!!

Every missionary mom, dad, brother, and sister anxiously await and count down the days until the much anticipated Christmas phone call.  With today's technology, video chatting is an added bonus.  President Querido let us know that our missionaries would be calling us on their P-day instead of Christmas Day.  That meant Monday morning for Marissa and Sunday night for us.  I was glad for this change because the house was quiet and we could completely focus on Marissa.  We had an awesome visit on Google Hangout with a lot of laughs and just a few tears. As you can see from the photos below, Marissa has not lost any of her personality!!! 




Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Is (almost) Here!!!

This week was so good! We had two birthday's to celebrate and a Christmas party to attend! The birthdays were of a recent convert and a less-active little girl. I got them both little goodies and they loved them! The little girl turned 12 so is now in young womens and she loves it!
 
 
The recent convert is 14 years old. I got her a pair of earrings only to find out her ears weren't even pierced!!! Whoops! Well, the next day she was working with us, and as we walked up to her house she came out and said, "HEY, LOOK! I GOT MY EARS PIERCED SO I COULD WEAR YOUR PRESENT!!" Haha! I thought it was really funny but also so sweet!
 
 
We also had our branch Christmas party! It was a big success and everyone was so happy! The missionaries were asked to do a special musical number so we did our own arrangement of Feliz Navidad. One sister started out with a verse of Feliz Navidad then another sister joined in with some scats and ooo's. Next another sister joined by singing the 'Merrrrrry Christmas... Merrrry Christmas' part. Finally, I joined in with "I WANNA WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!" We were facing away from the crowd until it was our turn to join in and when I turned around and belted my heart out, the crowd went wild :) I always knew I was born to be a star! Then we all sang "Excited po ako... excited po ako... excited po ako para sa pasko, excited po ako!" It means "I'm excited for Christmas!" I wish I could send you a video! It was so fun!

The primary also put on a program and I am proud to say over half of the cast were investigators or recent converts of ours! Our investigator families loved seeing their kids involved! They were all so cute!!
 

We were also able to watch the Christmas devotional last night. I LOVED it! I love Rosemary M. Wixom. She came to the MTC when I was there and I met her! She was so nice and I always get so much out of her talks. I loved her talk last night and started tearing up during her story of the little boy. Her message was so true and applicable to all of us. I wrote in my journal, "Marissa, Jesus Christ died for you." Jesus Christ really die for each and everyone of us, personally! I am so grateful for the sacrifice he made so that we can all return to live with our Father in Heaven. I've had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit because for me the first sign of Christmas approaching is freezing temperatures, snow, and hot chocolate. While they do have hot chocolate here, you've got to be crazy to drink it in 100 degree weather!! From last night's devotional I am now in full-out Christmas mode! I've got my Nat King Cole Christmas album on repeat!! But the most important way to celebrate Christmas is to drop the last syllable! With Christ at the center of our lives, everyday can be Christmas!

I love you all so much and hope you all have a very merry Christmas!!
  
Love,
Sister Miller

Monday, December 9, 2013

Out with the Old, Hellllllo to the New!

Hello Po!

This week was chunky jam full of news! WE HAD TRANSFERS!! But before I get to that I have the FUNNIEST story to tell you. On Monday, all four of the sisters in the apartment decided to go to Harbor Point Mall after our zone activity. This place is literally like America. I felt so weird and cold! I forgot what real air conditioning felt like! So, we are walking around in this huge mall trying to hunt down the Crocs store. At one point of our excursion, we were going down an escalator and Sister Diosan was talking about her dandruff. (I don't even remember how this topic came up!)   So my kasma, Sister Leakehe said, "Ah, I hope I don't have dandruff... check my hair!" So naturally Sister Diosan started looking through her hair, but what she found sure wasn't dandruff! All the sudden Sister Diosan yells, "SISTER, YOU'VE GOT LICE!!!!!" Now this is a big place and voices echo very easily. Suddenly everyone was staring at us! To make matters worse, Sister Leakehe started FREAKING OUT!! She was literally about to have a panic attack. She was yelling, "OH MY GOSH!! GET THEM OUT!! GET THEM OUT!!" I am almost literally dying laughing at the whole situation. Needless to say I felt like I needed to add to the mayhem so I start saying, "She's contagious! Quarantine her!!" Sister Diosan and Sister Johnson started looking at her hair to make sure and Sister Leakehe is still freaking out!! She was doing the girl squeal and jumping around, as if that would help. Ah man, I haven't laughed so hard my whole mission! Finally, we all took a deep breath and resolved to go buy lice shampoo for the four of us. It turns out she was the only one who had them but we all used the shampoo anyway. When we got back to the apartment, everyone went to work picking out the lice from her head. Of course, being my mothers daughter, I ran and grabbed my camera to document the whole experience!

LICE!!!

On Wednesday we had transfers and my dear kasama left me! It was sad because we got super close. We really had the same sense of humor and just loved being around each other. But all good things have to come to an end, right? Well, right! Not only would I get a new kasama but I was also assigned to train her...which means she is fresh from the missionary training center and doesn't know Tagalog yet! Her name is Sister Jayaweera and she is from Sri Lanka...AND she speaks English!! She is really nice and is hard working. I know that everything will work out and can already tell I'm going to grow a lot through training her.
 
You're the best!  No, YOU"RE the best!!!

I will miss you!

Sister Jayaweera from Sri Lanka
 
I know that no matter what trials we have in our life (like being only 12 weeks in on your mission to a foreign country where you aren't fluent in the language and then training someone who also doesn't speak the language) Heavenly Father is aware of us. I know that he loves each and everyone of us. I am so happy to be here teaching the Filipino people about Heavenly Father's plan for them and seeing the change this knowledge makes in their lives!

I love you all!
-Sister Miller
 
The new zone
 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Assignment -- Trainer

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Philippines, Olongapo Mission
Km. 140 National Highway, Mangan-Vaca
2209, Subic, Zambales
Philippines


05 Dec 2013
Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Mark Miller 
10420 S Millbrook lane 
Olathe, KS 66061 
United States


Dear Brother and Sister Miller,
I am very pleased to inform you that your daughter, Sister Marissa Noelle Miller, has been called to serve as a trainer of new missionaries.  Several factors are considered in the selection of a trainer, and your daughter satisfies them all.  Her new companion is Sister Rowena Winnoni Jayaweera.

Sister Miller is an outstanding proselyting missionary. She follows the mission rules, and has earned a well-deserved reputa­tion for her obedience, work ethic, and ability to get along well with members, investigators, and her fellow missionaries.  She also exemplifies Christ-like leadership among her peers.

As a trainer of a new missionary, she will work closely with her companion and be a mentor to her in all aspects of missionary work.  With her quiet dignity, she will be a shining example to her companion and to others that she will come in contact with.   Her obedience and love for the work will be passed on to her companion and much success will come because of her lasting influence
.
We are proud to have your daughter in our mission and we are excited to see her growth in fulfilling her responsibilities as a trainer. 
Sincerely,
PRBQ signature
Roberto Bayobo Querido
Philippines Olongapo Mission                                                   
Mission President
RBQ/mfg

Monday, December 2, 2013

We are the Champions!

Hello all!

So this week has been insane in the membrane!! We are approaching the end of my training and transfers are on Wednesday! We are pretty sure Sister Leakehe will be transferring but there is really no knowing. Nonetheless, we wanted to make our "maybe" last week together special so we decided to break a zone record. It took a lot of work and a lot of finding people but we ended the week with 27 NEW INVESTIGATORS!!!! Normally the average is like six, so we were really working! The old record was 25 and it was set by a companionship of Elders who I think are top notch. I felt a little bad crushing their record but I think I'll get over it. ;-)

Flower children!
 Check out our matching muu-muus!
Breaking this record really made me realize how important referrals are. Seventeen out of the 27 new investigators we taught were from referrals. Today there is so much emphasis on member missionary work and for good reason! The chances of someone accepting this gospel are so much greater if they have a friend fellowshipper whom they can ask questions of and go to church with. I never really did my part as a member missionary because I thought that's what the missionaries were for. I see now that just as important as the missionaries who teach investigators, are the members who fellowship them. So go out and give the missionaries referrals!!! YAY!

We were able to have "Thanksgiving" dinner at a recent convert's house. Thanksgiving is in quotations because she didn't know it was a Thanksgiving dinner but my companion and I did! We went to Sister Jennifer's house and she taught us how to make some Filipino food. I forgot what the main dish was but we also had sour soup. Man, is that an accurate title! The food was all so good and we also got to play with all of her nieces and nephews while the food cooked. They were so cute! They danced for us to What Does the Fox Say, Roar, and Whoops Gitty.
 
Getting ready for "Thanksgiving" dinner!

I love these kids...

and these kids, too!
 
I seriously love all the kids here! They are all so cute and they laugh at my accent. They are always quick to correct me so I actually learn a lot from them. It breaks my heart to know how poor everyone is here. Yesterday at church, I had some markers and the kids were so amazed that I could afford 10 markers and that they all actually worked. There is this one less-active family that we always bring food to. When I first got here, I was hesitant because I didn't want them to come to church just because we were bribing them with food. I soon found out that the family was so diligent and they always came to church even though they had nothing. The dad was in and out of their lives but the mom and kids were always so happy! We would bring them anything we could and you could see their faces light up from just one package of ramen like you were handing them a whole Thanksgiving turkey. I just want to help all of these people so much! It makes me realize how fortunate I am to be living the life that I am. I have so many blessings in my life and all I want to do is share and share and share.

That is really the mentality of a missionary, SHARE!! We share something with everyone! Whether it's candy to kids on the street or a lesson with the lady at the bakery who sells us our donuts, we are always looking for opportunities to share. There is, for sure, no selfishness in missionary work, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

I love you all and I love being a missionary!!

Love,
Sister Miller

Monday, November 25, 2013

Another baptism...

Hello one and all!

Well, it's happened again...somehow this week just flew by! 

We had another baptism on Saturday! Our convert's name is Brother Vitty. We want to baptize his whole family eventually! In the picture are his two sons and baby girl. Brother Vitty lives, literally, on the top of the mountain! It takes us a good 15 minutes to walk up there and the path is SUPER steep! The trek is worth it though because he has such a strong testimony and loves the Book of Mormon! He always wants to tell us what he read about Lehi and Nephi. He also loves karaoke, as do the rest of the people in this country, myself included! Whenever we go over there, he is usually belting it out into a microphone! He is really good and goes to competitions and events. I think it's funny because everyone here sings mostly songs in English and they all have Filipino accents! I am working on perfecting my Filipino accent so I can come home and speak with  it and tell everyone I'm from the Philippines! I try to tell the people here that I'm Filipino but for some reason no one believes me!! :)
 
 
 

As much as no one may believe me, I'm telling you I'm turning Filipino! I love it here and love everything about missionary work. I know this work is true and worth any and all sacrifices. I miss you all so much. I miss driving. Heck, I miss wearing sweats everyday but I wouldn't be anywhere else in the world than here. (Even with KU bastketball dominating this year...ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK!) I love this Gospel and I love seeing the positive changes it makes in the lives of all of my converts and in my life, as well!

Oh yeah, and just in case anyone wants to send me a pumpkin or anything like unto it, I would suggest otherwise! I guess it's the thought that counts, right, Mal? Haha I loved it nonetheless and it got me in the Halloween mood just in time for Thanksgiving!
 
This is what happens when trying to mail a real pumpkin to the Philippines!
 

I love you all and want you to eat a lot of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and everything else for me!!

Love, 
Sister Miller

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Work Continues...

May I start off by apologizing...I have no idea where the time went but I only have a couple of minutes to write to you! My bad....

I am so thankful for all the concern from everyone on my behalf. I am okay and my area wasn't affected by the typhoon. I've been hearing stories about the missionaries in Tacloban and other missions who were hit directly and it's heart breaking to think of their experiences. It's amazing that they were all safe and able to get to Manila. I know that Heavenly Father was watching over and protecting them. The people of Tacloban are still really struggling. I can't believe such a catastrophe happened and I didn't even know about it until it was over!!

I had another baptism this week, Sister Jerica. She is the granddaughter of a recent convert and she is so strong in the gospel! She gave her testimony at the baptism. It was so sweet and she was super nervous but she was smiling the whole way through and so was I!
 
 
We also had zone conference this week! Four zones got together and President Querido spoke with us. It was so good...all about how our success in the mission is all up to us and the choices we make! I loved it and couldn't agree more. I know that no matter what the world may throw at me, I can get through it all based on my decision to. It's the small decisions everyday that make the big decisions easy to make. Especially the decisions we make here on the mission about obedience. I know that through exact obedience I can receive many blessings and my work will continue to progress daily!

Zone Conference - Olongapo, Calapacuan, San Antonio and San Narciso Zones

I love Sister Querido!
 
This principle can be applied in everyone's lives, too, not just missionaries. I know that through our dedication to make right choices on the little things, it will be so much easier to choose the right when it comes to the bigger things in life. Like making a decision about how we are going to react in a certain situation before we actually find ourselves in that situation.  If we choose to be obedient in the small things, how much easier it is to be obedient to the big things! I am so grateful for this knowledge and how much easier it made growing up and deciding to serve a mission!!

I love and miss you all!!

Sister Miller

Monday, November 11, 2013

Miracles Times Three!

Man, has this been a week of miracles!!
 
The first miracle, which I wasn't totally aware of, was my safety. My area wasn't affected by Typhoon Yolanda that hit central Philippines on Friday. I know there was much loss of life and property in Tacloban and other areas and I am praying for them and their families.
 
 The second miracle...I survived training for a day!! My companion, Sister Leakehe, just became a Sister Training Leader so she had to go to a meeting at the mission home on Wednesday. I was going to just be added to another companionship near my area, but the Mission President had something different in mind. All I knew was that another STL's companion was coming to my area and we were to work together for the day. So I go to drop off my companion and pick up the other sister. Now when I first met her, I thought she was Filipino and immediately in my mind I'm thinking, "I have to act like I actually know this language and really impress her!" So for the first 10 minutes of being with her, she seemed pretty shy, only giving me short replies and mostly just nodding her head. Now my thoughts are, "Crap! She's Filipino and she can't even understand my Tagalog. I thought I was doing so good!" Well, it turns out she really couldn't understand me, but it was because she was actually from the Marshall Islands and had only been in the Peens for a week and a half, not because she was a Filipino and couldn't understand my Tagalog! So I got to be her trainer for the day! I didn't really have time to feel overwhelmed by the fact that I myself had only been here for 8 weeks and we were about to teach my investigators in this weird foreign language neither of us really knew. We just went out and did it! It was such a great experience. It made me realize that I can do hard things! I can teach a lesson nearly solo in full Tagalog! I'm not saying I've got it 100% down because that may never happen, but I know I always have Heavenly Father's help in this work and I'm so thankful for that!
 
And the third miracle.....NANAY BELINDA GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was truly a miracle! I can't remember how much I told you about her, but here's a recap. Nanay Belinda has had the gospel in her life through her son for over 25 years and she has always wanted nothing to do with it. Missionaries after missionaries tried to teach her and she would literally hide from them. She had never been to church and was very content with her relationship with God. So this is where we come in. We received her name as a referral from her son who told us, "This is my mother. Good luck. You'll need it!" We were planning on visiting her later in the week but we walked by the way to get to her house one day and my companion and I both thought we should pay her a visit. Our only hesitation was that we had Nanay Baman with us, who is in her 60s, and we had to climb many, many uneven steep stairs to get to the house. We decided to tough it out and help Nanay up. When we got to the top, we were all tired and the only person we could see was an old lady smoking. Then all the sudden from behind me, I hear Nanay Baman yell, "BELLLLLLINDA?!?! Sisters, you didn't tell me we were seeing Belinda!!" Immediately, the old lady who was smoking jumped up and ran to hug Nanay Baman! I guess they were best friends back in the day and hadn't seen each other in a long time. They were both so happy and Nanay Belinda insisted we come into her home. We didn't hesitate! They talked for a little bit and then we cut in and said how excited we were to share a message with her. At the end of the lesson, we asked when she would like us to come back. You'll never guess what she said... okay I'll tell you... she said, " EVERYDAY!! EVERYDAY!!" Can you believe that! We sure couldn't!! We thought, "Is this the right Belinda?!" We weren't the only ones astonished! Her son and the Branch President and anyone and everyone who knew her were amazed.
 
 So through the course of us teaching her, she came to the realization that she needed to be baptized. Oh yeah, did I mention that she told us that on the third lesson?! Our jaws were literally on the floor! Everything really came down to her little problem of smoking. She was reading the Book of Mormon everyday, going to church, praying, she was doing everything right but she was still smoking a pack and a half a day. We really pushed her to quit but she simply told us it wasn't possible. We suggested she get a priesthood blessing for strength. She did. We were always praying for her and we all fasted for her.
 
 Now, her son's job is taking him away to another country for two years but Nanay Belinda really wanted him to be at her baptism, understandably. So it's the weekend before her son leaves and Nanay Belinda is still smoking 6 sticks a day, but she really wants to quit. We got special permission from the Mission President that if she could not smoke a single cigarette this whole week she could be baptized on Thursday before her son left on Friday. We made all the plans but, ultimately, it was up to Nanay and she was convinced she couldn't do it. We taught her about fasting and she decided that she needed to fast for help to break her addiction. Well, I kind of already ruined the ending for you, but needless to say, she hasn't smoked since and was baptized Thursday night by her son!

 
 

This is the favorite experience of my mission so far. To see how hard Nanay Belinda was willing to work and to feel the love and support that so many people had for her was truly amazing.
 
 I love being a missionary and being able to experience the change this gospel makes in the lives of those whom we teach. I know that Heavenly Father is watching over us all and that he is so ready and willing to pour out blessings upon us.

I love you all so much,

Sister Miller

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Best Email You'll Receive All Week!

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was sitting here in this little internet cafe emailing you guys! It never ceases to amaze me how fast time goes by here!! 
 
This week I just want to brag to you about how amazing my investigators are!! I don't have time to tell you about all of them but here are a few highlights!

Solly & Max: So these two are a couple we have been teaching the entire time I've been here. They are really converted to the gospel but aren't married so they can't get baptized until they get married or stop living together. They chose marriage. Solly didn't have a birth certificate so they are in the process of getting that and then they will be able to file for marriage. They don't have any money and have been working really hard and taking on new jobs to try and pay to get married. I can really see their desire to be baptized and even though they know it will be a while until they are able to do so, they stay so diligent and come to church every week and read the Book of Mormon everyday. I hope they don't get discouraged in the long wait for their baptism! I also hope I am still here to see them get married and baptized!!

Vitty, Charito, and John: This is a family we found through I2L-ing. (Inviting to learn) It's basically being nice to everyone as we walk and sharing about the gospel. Their house is literally on the top of the mountain! It takes us about 12 minuets to get up there and we have to stop for a break mid-way! I thought my calf muscles were big before but now they're HUGE!! The work out of getting to their home is worth it though because they are so golden! They've had a lot of trials in their lives and have been searching for a church to go to for a while but said none of them felt right. They said this one was different and was answering their questions! Ahhhhh! How awesome is that?! I want so badly for them to be baptized but I know they need to progress in their own time. They are our goal for this month! I'll keep you posted!

Belinda: So I wrote about her last week but she seriously amazes me every time we visit her! She started to get discouraged about the word of wisdom, she has been smoking since she was 9!! She said she prayed about it and realized she is meant to be baptized no matter what or how long it takes!! She comes to church every week and actively participates in 'school'. (That's what she calls classes.) 

So that's just a few! I love ALL my investigators and will update you all throughout my future emails.

This week, one of my besties from the MTC had to go home. Her back was really acting up and she was in a lot of pain. It really shook me that she was going home. This sister was the ideal missionary and someone I really looked up to. The whole situation made me realize how blessed I am to be here and what a privilege it really is to serve a mission! It made me realize that I need to strive to be my best every second of every hour of everyday of every week of every month!!! I want to work everyday like it is my last so if for any reason I had to leave, I would have no regrets! 

In true missionary fashion, I have a commitment I would like to leave with whomever may read this. I just finished a book and I loved it and would like to extend to you the invitation to read it also. It's called Our Search for Happiness: An Invitation to Understand The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was written by M. Russell Ballard, an apostle of the church. I loved it and loved the way he so simply and clearly explained many church doctrines! I've been a member my whole life but I still got a lot out of reading it! So there it is...my challenge for you all! Please read this book and email me your thoughts!! Members of this church or not, I know you will learn something! So do it!! :)

I love you all so much!! 

Sister Miller

Monday, October 28, 2013

B is for Baptism....and Balut!!!

Hello Po and Family!
 
My second baptism was this week!!! It was for Brother Jeffery whom we have been teaching since I got here. Both of his parents are converts and they are so strong in the church. Brother Jeffrey's wife was against us teaching him in the beginning but she has really opened up and even came to the baptism! It was so cool because Jeffrey's dad was able to baptize him and I could tell it really meant a lot to both of them.

We have a new investigator named Nanay Belinda. We got her name as a referral from her son who is the dad of a less active family who we teach about once a week. We are the fifth set of missionaries she's had so we were expecting to have to work really hard to teach her. We were praying really hard for her before we even started teaching her! Our first appointment was AMAZING!! She took the Book of Mormon and told us about how much she relies on God and prays and reads the Bible everyday. We saw her twice after that and each time she told us she could feel the spirit telling her it was all true. Yesterday we went to pick her up for church. Are you sitting down? 'Cause you're going to need to be to hear this next part! So we are at her house about to walk to church when she says this, "Sisters, I prayed last night, I know this church is true. I know it's time for me to be baptized!" This is a lady who has known about the church since her son converted over 25ish years ago! She has always rejected it and never been open to missionaries!! I was astonished to day the least!!! I know that our prayers and her prayers were answered! I am so thankful for the power of prayer and for a Heavenly Father who answers them!!

In other news... I SURVIVED BALUT!!! For those of you who don't know what balut is, it's a Philippine 'delicacy'. Really it's a fertilized duck or chicken egg with a partially developed embryo inside.  You boil it and when you open it, you see a little chick. I'm sure you can imagine what happens next. Yep, you stick that sucker in your mouth and enjoy! Well 'enjoy' may be a stretch, but it's all about the experience, isn't it? I took a video of it but it's too large to email. I will try and figure out how to send it for next week because it is a HOOT!! After the first bite it, it wasn't too bad. It just tasted like an egg you would get at a run down diner in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, if you can imagine that!

There are new adventures everyday here in the Philippines! I have learned so much about the gospel, about myself, and about how much Heavenly Father loves us all. I feel right at home here and everyday I feel the confirmation that this is what I am suppose to be doing right now. I know I'm meant to be a missionary and I'm meant to be here in the Philippines!

I love you all!! Stay gold!!

Sister Miller
The view from our apartment...way up high!

This little puppy reminded me of my sister's dog, Lily!
 
 


Monday, October 21, 2013

What a Wonderful Adventure It Is!!!

Kumusta po kayo to all!!
 
This week was chunky jam full of funny experiences, so let me lay it down for you!!
 
Well, the first and funniest happened when we were working with a member. (Side Note: YOU SHOULD ALL WORK WITH THE MISSIONARIES!!!!!) So, this particular day we are working with Nanay Daculin. She is the sweetest old lady ever! She is about 4 feet talk and probably the most talkative person I have ever met. I wish I had a picture with her but I will try and get one this week! Anyways, she is working with us and we go to visit the Joven family. (They are all the kids that were in my pictures before.) Every time we visit the Joven's, we always play a game after the lesson. We settled on playing this game where you blindfold one person and give them a cup. They count to 10 and then try to find someone and touch them with the cup. If you get touched you have to oink like a pig, The blindfolded person then has to guess who it is. If they guess correctly, the person who was tagged becomes the blindfolded person. So the whole point of the game is to not be found/tagged by the person who is it. So here comes the funny part. Nanay Daculin, the short, old lady that she is, is COMPLETELY into this game!! Like trampling over the little kids in order to stay away from the tagger!!! She is literally darting from one side of the room to the other!!! Once she started to climb up this post holding up the wall just to avoid getting tagged!!! I'm talking about a 60 or 70 year old woman here!!! My companion and I laughed about it for hours after the fact!!!
 
So funny experience number two...and for this one I have pictures! So, this was my week to do the dishes everyday. So like my normal routine I woke up and started to wash all the plates and such that were in the sink, but this particular morning dishes weren't the only thing in the sink. A little friend decided to take a midnight snack off of our dirty dishes. It was a lizard!! I calmly, well as calmly as I could, did some of the dishes, hoping the dang thing would climb out when I started moving things around. The little bugger wouldn't budge! I thought to myself, 'maybe it's dead.' I poked it with my finger, just a little bit. NOPE!!! NOT DEAD!!! I screamed and the other sisters came running! I guess he couldn't climb out of the sink because of residue on the side so I tried to catch him in a bowl with no success. So, then it dawned on me....there's only one option left. Someone is going to have to pick him up...with their hands. That someone turned out to be me.  It was a lot of ruckus and commotion but definitely something I'll tell my kids about!

Come here, you!
 
This is seconds after I got the little guy in my hands!!
I quickly ran outside and let him go.

Everyday there is something to laugh about! I am so thankful for my companion who has a good sense of humor. I can't imagine having a dull companion who never laughed.

Funny faces with Sister Leakehe! :-)
So in other news, today I met the Mayor of Olongapo! They held a special ceremony to thank all the people who went above and beyond to help with the flood clean up. All the missionaries who helped clean up the museum got to go up on stage and receive a certificate of appreciation. It was pretty cool to be on stage in front of about 2000 people but it quickly grew awkward when we didn't walk off for about 10 minuets after we got the certificate. I also met this female, Filipino race car driver. I'm not sure why she was there but it was cool none the less.
 
This week I've learned a lot. As I am rereading the Book of Mormon, I find myself immersed in it. I love the Book of Mormon and have such a strong testimony of the power it holds to answer your prayers, comfort you, and basically, give you anything you need! I know that the Book of Mormon is true and works hand in hand with the Bible to bring forth the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am so thankful for the influence the Book of Mormon and this gospel have had in my life and I am so happy everyday to be sharing it with the people of the Philippines!
 
I love you all!
 
-Sister Miller
Oh yeah, this is me and one of our investigators!! Great minds think alike :)
My mind is also thinking he needs to be baptized! 
Hopefully, our minds will be on the same page again soon!
 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Not In Kansas Anymore!

I've been waiting weeks to use that title!!

So, this has been yet another great week!!! Is there really any other kind of week on a mission? I mean, I'm out here serving and helping people everyday! This week I have come to really appreciate the common phrase, "lose yourself in the work!" When I was talking about it with my companion, I was feeling a little down. We were talking about how we have to change every aspect of our lives in order to become the best missionaries we can be. I REALLY didn't want that to happen to me! I didn't want to lose my sense of humor or my personality. When I was thinking about it later I thought, 'Ya know, that is what makes me who I am and Heavenly Father wouldn't want me to lose that!' I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows and appreciates the little things that make us who we are.
 
So one of the highlights this week was receiving my first package!!!! BIG TIME shout out to the best mom and best package packer in the whole wide world!! I will be eating mac and cheese like a true American this week!! 
 



 
I am in love with the Philippines. I love the people. I love the culture. I am starting to like the food! I love being a missionary. I know I say that a lot but it's so true. Never have I felt like I'm meant to be doing something so strongly in my life. I know this is part of God's plan for me.
 
I really want to share with you a talk from General Conference. I think it is so important for everyone to read it. Whether you are a member of the church or not I would implore you to give it a read!
I know that no matter where you are in life, spiritually or physically, there is a place for you in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This gospel has made such a difference in my life and I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to share it!
 
I love you all and appreciate all the emails, letters, and prayers for me.
-Sister Miller
 
P.S. Sorry I can't take a normal picture!! I know I'm goofy! 
 
Hello everyone---Maria here!
 
It is a great blessing to me that Marissa's mission president is on Facebook and often posts photos of the missionaries.  I love looking through his posts and finding a picture of Marissa...or two...or three! :-)
 
This past week, the group of missionaries who arrived with Marissa returned to the mission home for some follow-up training.  It was the first time that she was able to see the friends from her MTC district since they were assigned to different areas in the mission the day after their arrival.  They also had to have fingerprints taken at this time as it is a federal law that all international missionaries have their fingerprints on file.
 
Here are some pics that President Querido posted that day:

District reunion!

President and Sister Querido
They are so wonderful to the missionaries...and their parents!