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,