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!

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!!
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!


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

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. 
PRBQ signature
Roberto Bayobo Querido
Philippines Olongapo Mission                                                   
Mission President

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!!

Sister Miller