Monday, April 27, 2015

Mountains to Climb

This week has been a week of learning for me.  I asked my district leader to give me a blessing because I was having a hard time with feeling disappointed with myself.  I knew I wouldn't be a perfect missionary right at the start, but I thought I would be doing better with the language and with everything else.  He blessed me with the ability to be patient with myself.  Then a couple of days later, he asked if I was praying for the gift of tongues.  I'd been praying for help with Tagalog, but not specifically the gift of tongues, so I started praying for that.  And in the first personal prayer, when I asked that, I felt my faith start to grow, just like is described in Alma 32.  It is amazing to me the power that prayer has, and that when we are receptive and listening, Heavenly Father will give us the things we need to accomplish the work He has called us to do.

This is a picture of my first trainer and first district leader--my mission field nanay and tatay :) I look so much like them, don't I?? ;D

And this is my awesome zone, during our zone activity :)

Another thing I've found that gives me a lot of guidance is my setting apart blessing.  We had a sweet sister in our ward copy it down as I received it, so when I want to review the counsel and promises in it it's nice to just be able to pull it out of my binder.  The power of the Priesthood is so real, and through it God truly gives us the direction we need.

I really am starting to love it here.  There are a couple of members, less actives, and investigators that truly have a special place in my heart, and whenever I look at them they remind me of different members of my family.  It makes it so easy to love them, and it gives me such a desire to bring them to the gospel, and help them realize the peace and blessings they can receive from living the principles of the gospel.  Seeing the young men in the ward makes me miss my brother, and want to be at home roughhousing with him haha.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he always let me win ;) lol jkjk James!!  But I do feel like I've gained some additional family here, and it's really cool.

My quote this week is from one of my favorite (not-mission-approved) songs, "Mountains" by Lonestar.  "I've been around and I've noticed that walking's easy when the road is flat.  Them danged ole hills will get you every time.  The good Lord gave us mountains, so we could learn how to climb."  Both as a missionary and just in everyday life, we are faced with mountains.  Sometimes it doesn't seem like we can get over the mountains, but when we put our trust in the Lord He gives us that extra little boost we need to get to the top.  And when we're at the top, we can look back and see how far we've come, and how much we've grown.  And those moments are some of the coolest.

My scripture goes along with that.  It's 1 Nephi 18:3.  "And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things."  When we are climbing those mountains, we are getting closer to the Lord, and closer to the people He knows that we can become.  I am so grateful for the chance I have to be here!!  I am learning so much, about life, about myself, about my Savior.  Being a missionary is by far one of the most difficult things I've ever done, but also the best.  I LOVE IT!!

Well I love and miss you all and I hope that things are going well.  Lots of love from the Philippines!!
Sister Pectol

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Guardian Angels are Really Busy!

Well, this week has been interesting. Honestly, not that much happened that's out of the ordinary, but right now, my ordinary is adapting to a new culture, so everything seems different lol. One of the funny things about the Filipinos is that they LOVE karaoke. And I don't mean just a little bit. We pass by houses all the time that have people bellowing songs to the videoke machines. It's hilarious. And the best part is that even when they're like me and can't carry a tune in a bucket, they still belt it. It's so entertaining!!

I had a really cool experience this week when we were teaching. We were supposed to be teaching a young recent convert, but when we went to her house there were 4 guys there hanging out. They were 15, 17, 21 and 21 years old, and were so interested in the lesson. The cool part for me was that as they talked to each other and to us, even though I couldn't understand all of it, they reminded me so much of my brother James. As I pictured him, it was like he was part of the group we were teaching. It made it so easy to love those young men, and to want to share the beautiful message of the gospel with them.

We're promised as missionaries that we'll have the Lord's angels around us to help us and bear us up. That's wonderful, but I'm pretty sure the angels surrounding me roll their eyes a lot. Between the crazy steep stairs in our apartment and my natural clumsiness, I'm a walking disaster. For example, a couple of days ago I was sitting on my bed reading the BoM, and I got up to get something off my desk. Well I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention, because out of nowhere my electric fan was suddenly under my feet and I was half kicking it, half tripping over it. I caught myself just fine, but the poor fan wasn't so lucky. It shot a piece of plastic off one of the fan blades, and started bouncing on the floor because of the missing chunk. OOPS. Luckily we had an extra fan downstairs, so I won't die of heatstroke any time I'm in our room. We don't have A/C, so the electric fans are literally our lifesavers. And then, when we were walking to an appointment, we had to step around a parked car. No biggie, except it was in a big mud puddle. I thought I was stepping into a dry spot, but apparently not, because I suddenly skidded forward and splatted black oily mud up my leg. Yum. Thank goodness our investigator had some water I could rinse off with haha.
And my umbrella broke!! Which wasn't my fault. It just randomly stopped working, and when I went to try to fix it I realized it had lost a spring when we were out proselyting. So that's on my shopping list, because this redhead is going to FRY without one lol.

I was sitting in the combined Sunday School class at church yesterday, when I suddenly felt the end of my braid move. There was one of the young men behind me flicking my braid!! He was absolutely fascinated haha. Then he asked about my freckles and if they were normal. It was hilarious. He kept trying to talk to me in Tagalog, and I was trying to do my best to keep up, but it just wasn't happening. I told Sister Arcangel that towards the end of my mission I'm going to come back to Sumulong 2nd ward, and say "Remember how bad my Tagalog was?? Well, listen to this!!" Hopefully by that point I'll know what I'm saying lol.

The scripture that I loved this week is D&C 6:32-37. I especially love verse 34: "Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail." I'm learning that this is true. That even when we're faced with a challenge that seems impossible to overcome, the Lord is ALWAYS on our side, and He will not let us fail.

The weekly quote kind of goes along with that, and is something that I heard at our trainer/trainee meeting this week. I wrote it on a flashcard and taped it to the wall by my desk, and it has helped me through the couple of rough moments I've had. They're only short moments, but it still helps to have stuff like this :) "Things are going to work out today; they always do." I truly love the work here, and even though I've never been so sweaty in my life, I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to come to the Philippines and share the beauty of the gospel with the people here. It has brought me such comfort in my trials, and I know that it can help anyone who applies the principles, and I'm so excited to share that.

Mahal ko kayo!!
Sister Payton Pectol

I Think I'm in Love!!! Or I'm an Emotional Disaster

April 13, 2015

In all seriousness though, I'm pretty sure missionary work is bipolar lol. I spend a good part of my time loving it here, but I also spend some time wanting to cry cause I'm so stressed and frazzled. But I really am starting to love it. It's still super hot, and I'm still ALWAYS sweaty, and I still don't feel like I can speak any Tagalog, but it's ok cause I'm here doing what I need to be doing. I just need to make sure I get my sentence focuses right. I ended up saying "I know that you will help the Book of Mormon" to an investigator this week. OOPS!! But she got the gist, so it's ok XD

We got one of those cellphone service texts this week, and it was signed by...guess who...President Monson!!! Yeah, I kind of doubt that the prophet would be sending us texts about our cellphone service lol.

So, I've had a couple more firsts. I had my first MTC split on Wednesday, which was a lot of fun. I was so scared that they were going to split me and Sister Arcangel up! She seems like she's starting to get the area, but I'm still super lost. But, thank goodness, they didn't. We had a pretty good time though, so that was fun. I had my first General Conference in the mission field this weekend!! It was really nice, I was able to receive a lot of comfort and reassurance. Starting out in a whitewashed area has been difficult and I sometimes struggle to feel like I'm measuring up, but the talks that were shared were amazing and were what I needed.
I also ate my first Big Mac today!!! I can't believe I had to come clear to the Philippines to do that LOL. We had our district meeting this morning, so afterwards Elder Leilua (the district leader) treated us all to McDo's. I've never liked McDonald's, but today it was really good. I'm not sure if it's cause they cook the food differently in the Philippines, or if I'm just so excited to have a burger that even McDonald's is good haha.

I got compared to Elsa by some kids this past week. I think that just because I'm so white (seriously though--it's kind of ridiculous) they think that it's awesome. I personally thought I looked more like Anna then Elsa, but you know...people have different opinions ;D

The scripture this week is kind of different. Turn to Moroni 7:26. About halfway down the verse, continue the sentence across the page to verse 31: "And as surely as Christ liveth, bear testimony of Him." This is what I'm here to do. I know that Christ is my Savior, and that with Him by my side there isn't anything I can't overcome.

I've been reading Jesus The Christ in my personal study, and it has been such a blessing for me. On page 227, there was a quote that stood out to me this morning: "The Master chose them; they did not choose themselves; by Him they were ordained, and they could in consequence rely the more implicitly upon His guidance and support." I have been called by Christ to be here. I have His name on my nametag, and I am here to help others come closer to Him. I am so grateful for this opportunity. It definitely hasn't been easy so far, and I know it won't be easy in the future, but when I am being guided by my Savior it doesn't matter, because He will help me learn the things I need to.

Mahal ko kayo!!
Sister Payton Pectol

Sunday, April 5, 2015

God Truly Calls the Weak

Hello everyone!!  It's only been a couple of days since my last email, so not too much has happened.  There was supposed to be a typhoon this past weekend, but so far we haven't even seen a hint of it.  I was actually looking forward to experiencing my first one, but I guess that will just have to wait.  They're a common occurrence here in the Philippines, so there will be plenty of opportunities.

I can tell the sun is starting to take it's effect on me.  I noticed that I'm starting to get a line from my shirts, and when I saw her at the temple Sister Latham commented on how many more freckles I have lol.  I'm honestly not sure if my shirt line is a sunburn or a tan, but being a redhead, I think it's more likely the first.

Well, I'm officially half Filipina!!  Sister Latu made eggs for breakfast, so I had an egg and bread with peanut butter.  Typical breakfast, no big deal, but I felt like something was missing.  I realized that the meal didn't feel complete because there wasn't rice!!  I guess that's one sign the culture is making me its own lol.  I got to try Jollibee's for the first time too.  Jollibee's to the Philippines is like McDonald's is to America--they're EVERYWHERE.

I also hand washed clothes for the first time this week.  I had never done it before so Sister Alfoja helped me out.  It wasn't too bad, but is definitely very time consuming.

Friday was a very hard day for me.  I've been very homesick, and it all came out Friday morning.  That was the first time Sister Arcangel has seen me cry, so I don't think she quite knew what to do to help.  Let me give you a list of the stressors that contributed to my breakdown:
--I was so homesick that I couldn't even think about my family without wanting to bawl, and I hadn't looked at their pictures once since I got to the Philippines cause I knew I would cry
--I'm trying to learn how to be a missionary while learning a whitewashed area, and trying to be obedient
--I feel like I don't know any Tagalog, and I try to participate in lessons but it's hard for me to speak and hard for them to understand
--Despite the fact that I'm putting enough Deet on to probably give myself cancer, I still end up serving as a smorgasbord for mosquitoes
--I'm ALWAYS sweaty
--I'm always being watched, partly because I'm white and partly because I'm a missionary, so I'm trying to always smile and be friendly
--I'm trying to be strong and faithful while going through all this
--I miss the Utah mountains and clean air.  There are mountains here, but I can't see them because of the buildings, and jeepneys and tricycles have the worst fumes ever
--I am completely inadequate of this calling, and I don't have the ability to do this on my own, and I don't feel like I'm measuring up

It's quite a list, right??  Well, following that list, is a list of miracles that have happened to me personally to make me feel just fine about everything.
--Friday night I got a letter from my mom that should have been waiting for me at the mission home but wasn't.  The fact that it was late was a blessing from my Heavenly Father though, because getting it Friday evening after being so homesick was such a tender mercy, and made me feel so much better.
--Even though I still miss my family and friends horribly, I know that a mission is a good thing and that they're being blessed for it.  And I went through and showed my pictures to Sister Arcangel, and was just happy to see the pictures.
--I am filled to the brim with excitement and gratitude to be here in the Philippines.  It is hard and it is a very new experience, but it is an amazing opportunity and I love that I get to experience this.
--We have more ward members working with us, and we've been able to get more potential investigators and contacts to teach, and I can see how open they are to the message.  It's amazing.

There have been a lot of ups and downs in just the past couple of days, but it has been amazing to learn the things I have.  I titled this email what I did because I have realized how completely inadequate I am.  BUT, I have also recognized that God knows my weaknesses and my faults, and when He issued this call He knew that it wouldn't be easy for me.  But through Him, I'm enough for this work.  With Him, I am enough to help people and to bring them the gospel.  With Him, I have the strength and the courage to go out and open my mouth, even when I don't know the language.  With Him, I can do all things.

John 15:16  "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."  God calls the weak, like me, but those He calls He qualifies.  He makes up the difference, and enables us to be able to perform the labors He has called us to.

"Being worthy is not being perfect."  Sister Michelle, the young women's president, said that in her testimony yesterday.  I don't know if she was quoting someone else or if that was her own words, but it definitely hit me powerfully.

"He (Heavenly Father) is aware of you, right there where you are at the very moment you read this letter."--My wise momma.  At the moment I read that sentence, I was in a packed jeepney, reading by a dim car light and shedding a couple of grateful tears.

I love and miss you all and I can't wait to see you.  MAHAL KO KAYO!!!

Sister Pectol