Sunday, June 28, 2009

Missionaries Fireside: Importance of Retention

Before heading to our appointment we gotta strike some pose first while waiting for Elder Ontoria to finish that second set of pancit after munching on the baked macaroni. Who said work is supposed to be always serious?

Birthday girl Sister Faith Rose Jagodilla, Me, Sister Jenny Jungco (she will be serving in the Philippines Laog Mission by Friday) and Sister Michele Joyce Araneta

Jaro 2 Ward Missionaries together with our Bishopric and FT missionaries

Sundays are always best time to contemplate, relax and learn new things. We had a full-time missionaries and ward missionaries fireside yesterday together with Elder Ontoria, Elder Ford (they are the FT missionaries currently serving in our ward) and we also had guests missionaries from the Iloilo Stake, Manduriao Ward--Elder Canas and I'm sorry I forgot the name of his companion that has the eyes like that of Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell of Prison Break. I meant that as a compliment because not everyone has the eyes like that of a I'm just joking. I mean not everyone has the eyes like that of a celebrity.

Our resource speaker was Elder Canas (I'm sorry my ALT+164 wouldn't work so I can't type "enye" like that used in Spanish words like "Nino", "Nina) but his name is pronounced as "Canyas". He's such a very moving speaker. He always emphasizes to "Do Not Underestimate..." the power of our example, the capacity of every sister, the worth of every soul. I think he's a really powerful and humble servant of the Lord. He talked about the importance of Retention.

I almost forgot, our FT missionaries gave a report of the progress of the investigators in our area and it's so cool to know that our investigator, Brother Jordan Deslate, is about to be baptized this coming July 4th! His mom and sister were baptized by Elder McCook (now he's in Canlaon) and they're indeed cool investigators preparing nosh whenever we visit. Other progressing investigators include Maryvel (she's the cousin of Sister Carla), Jenny(lives in the same house with Carla and Maryvel), Brother Detsusa, Patong Herrera (when we met him we envisioned him to be a great and just cool YM President), Catahay Family, Hontoria Family in Linao Balabag, Baclas Family. Those are just some of the names of the investigators we're helping out in going back in the true and restored gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Elder Canas quoted President Gordon B. Hinckley, "Serving a mission is the best training a woman could ever have in her preparation to becoming a mother". I felt the veracity of the said statement and I know that the Lord will help me better equipped in the many challenges motherhood would ever give me through my mission experiences. He also gave a brief account of his conversion and how the sister missionaries were able to help him become converted in the Church. He was a former pastor in another denomination and he was helped to be converted in the restored gospel through the efforts of sister missionaries that were assigned in his area in Davao.

IQ Test in Greece

He then related a story about how IQ test was done in Greece. He said that a person with an average IQ, when tasked to take all the water in a fish pond would automatically respond by bringing a pail and using it, take all the water out of the pond. However, a person with a wiser and comparatively higher IQ would stop the source of the water and then take the water out of the pond using the pail. It's about stopping the cause of the problem before focusing on the visible problem. Also, it's a matter of resolving the problem from the roots instead of just giving solution to the problems in the leaves or the stem.

Saving the Star Fish

A man was observed carrying the star fish from the seashore and throwing it back to the depths of the sea. One man who's been observing him doing the same thing over and over again couldn't help but approach him and asked why is he trying to save the star fishes when there's a lot of them being tossed by the waves in the seashore and they will eventually die. The man replied while holding the star fish in one hand, "With this, I can make a difference".

Most of the time we underestimate the power of the difference we can make in the world because we seem to be the only one doing the thing we're doing or probably because of the fear that we won't make a big impact or change in the world at all. Well, we should think again. If all the people who would like to make a change would be overpowered by such thought Satan is trying to put in our minds, we will definitely wouldn't change a thing. But if we will all strive to do what we think is right even if others cannot, then in our little ways the world will change little by little day by day. I like it better to think that I could make a single though little difference in the world for the better than to think that my life is just a wasted opportunity. I'd rather keep in my mind a positive perspective that my Heavenly Father has commissioned me to do marvelous things in my little capacity and that with His grand help I could accomplish a lot of things, than to just think miserably or stand idly without doing anything at all. You see, we all have the capacity to do great things as we start working on our own little circumstances as from small and simple things great things shall come to pass.

Correlation of the Evils

One day a group of evils wanted to thwart the work of the Lord and stop the members of the Church to continue praising their God and serving their Lord. They wanted the members to become inactive or less active in attending their sacrament meeting or attending their Sunday service. One of them suggested that they would kidnap the leaders. They all laughed at the idea since they couldn't possibly do that since they do not have bodies. Another one suggested that they would kill the leaders. They all laughed at the idea since they again couldn't do that since they are bodiless. Another wisely suggested that they would just whisper in the ears of the faithful members that going to the Church is useless or that listening the the sermon or talk of the speaker would do them no good. At that, they all agreed would be the best thing to do.

The soldiers of Satan are doing the best that they can to prevent us from doing what is best for us and in the progress of the work of the Lord. They know that if we stop in our regular attendance in our sacrament meetings we will eventually become weak and so does will the army of the Lord. They would like us to feel that our little actions of kindness will go unnoticed in the eyes of the Lord and that attending our services every Sunday will do us no good because the talks and sermons will all be the same and repeated over and over again. But the truth is, all the simple things we do are building blocks in keeping us nourished and strengthened so we could fight all the temptations and trials that could come in our lives. Just as cements are made of pebbles, sand and little stones. Without the accumulated little things we do we won't be able to create something really big and strong.

Elder Canas then concluded that it is easier to retain than to retake. Indeed it's harder to convince someone the second time around though others take that love is sweeter the second time around. But you see, the path to righteousness is much more difficult to trace when you have to do it again because the expectation and the challenge is much greater.

It was also Sister Faith Rose Jagodilla's 18th birthday yesterday. She's a lovely and faithful daughter of God. She's always open to learning and very humble in all she does. I gave her a pink key chain I bought from our little escapade in Boracay.

Afterwards we visited families Silan, Patong Herrara and Trixie. The work was fun again because we were fed with highly uplifting and spiritual stories. I know that it is our duty to help ever new members and investigators to grow spiritually in the knowledge of the truth and that we should help and guide them all the way as they strive to have a deeper testimony of the truth. I've been through that stage in my life wherein I needed a confirmation that what I know is really true. My friends in the Church have helped me in the journey and I would be eternally be grateful to them for all the support and love that they've let me feel during that vulnerable and critical phase in my quest for truth.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Certain Consequences Follow Specific Actions

Yesterday we had our first meeting with Brother Manny Insigne, our Missionary Preparation Class teacher. He's a brilliant, interesting and humble servant of our Lord. He shared his mission experiences with us and we were all inspired to become better prepared soldiers of the Lord. There was only six of us in the class, two ladies and four valiant men, one of whom will be serving in the field by next month.

We were taught one simple yet powerful principle from the Doctrine of Covenants Section 82 verse 10. CCFSA, it means Certain Consequences Follow Specific Actions. It's so true that all the blessings we reap are just results of all our labors. Specific decisions and actions will eventually be followed by consequences that we no longer have agency or capacity to control. The moment we commit into something we've already decided, the nature will then have its turn about giving specific consequences from our works. One good example that was given was If we date properly with a member, we will be married in the temple. Yes we always have our agency to choose what we like or we think that is right, but our agency ends the moment we abuse it. I love the thought that our Heavenly Father will keep His promise as we keep ours. It gave me a comforting feeling that as I continually strive to become like Him, He is granting me all the power and support I badly need in the whole process.

We were challenged by Brother Insigne to become the ideal student our Heavenly Father expects us to be. An ideal seminary and institute student:

1. Has a daily habit of reading the scriptures (at least 15 minutes a day)
2. Fish in the scriptures-we should be able to liken the scriptures in our daily lives and help another by sharing specific accounts that relates to our troubles

We were asked as to how we would resolve a concern of a sister who is afraid to go the Church because of the fear that when caught attending our Sunday service will be kicked out or expelled from her school? That got me thinking pretty hard since I rarely visit my scriptures. I know, I better take the challenge and read the four standard works more often and have a goal to finish reading them before I go to serve the Lord in the field. So the answer to that concern was to read her Daniel 6. Daniel were also threatened to be thrown in the lion's den if they would pray, but knowing that their God is higher than any other gods, they prayed. The most wonderful part of the story, he was delivered from the lion and proved to all humankind that God indeed is alive anf that He listens to our prayers. He is bound if we do what He says.

Certain Consequences Follow Specific Actions.

We were challenged to:

1. Read the scriptures and be able to teach. We should first seek to obtain the word before we could eventually teach it effectively.

2. Bring the scriptures in the class.

3. Wear our proselyting attires.

The Lord wants us to be the most prepared missionaries of our generation so we need to raise the bar and I know that if I prepare myself I will be endowed with the promised power that God gives to all His faithful servant.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Seek Learning Even By Study and Also by Faith

Today our lesson in our Single Adults' Sunday School class was about how we could seek learning by study and by faith. The very first thought that came into my mind is the Prophet Joseph Smith and how we gave a perfect example of that phrase. He sought learning by studying the scriptures because he wanted to know the truth of the gospel. Unlike most men of his time, he wanted to learn the truth for himself and salvation and not for reproof or to destroy another sect's faith. He wanted a pure knowledge of the truth that at that time was corrupted by every person's own understanding as the truth was taken away from the Earth due to man's wickedness. Such a humble and unlearned man yearned for a plain and simple truth that later was restored on Earth through Him.

He searched the scriptures diligently with the faith in the Lord that he would find answers. He knew that either he would remain in darkness forever or seek to find the truth. I admired his unwavering faith and his earnest desire and pray that every man in the Earth would have a seeking yet humble attitude like him. I hope and pray that in the field, the people that I would be teaching would be humble and prayerful enough not to lean unto their own understandings but learn to depend on the Lord for the pure and sweet truth.

In the middle of the class, our teacher, Sister Weng, asked us of the lessons we learned from our parents. Probably the best lesson I learned from my mom was to be persistent in whatever task you'd like to accomplish despite the many obstacles that might come your way. There would always be plenty of them in the process, you cannot change that fact, but if you remain true and strong in your purpose, you will eventually succeed in your goal. I knew that it's not only my mom that trusts in me but also my Heavenly Father. I know that they both want me to succeed because I was born to be one. Sister Michele Joyce Araneta shared her own learning from her parents. She said that she always wanted to have a good gospel-centered family and since her parents are not members of the Church, she needs to adjust to that fact and work on changing things through her future family. We both are trying to prepare to serve in the mission by next year. We both have this great faith that through us, the Lord will make a mighty change in the hearts and lives of the people. If there's something that we can do about a situation, we need to start the change within ourselves. If there's nothing we can do about it, we need to change our attitudes about it.

Aside from the four standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which are Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants, we are encourage to seek learning through the best books of the world as in the thirteenth article of our faith, "...If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." (Articles of Faith 13)

When we seek, we need to keep a humble and faithful attitude so the Lord will be our guide in the whole learning process.


Jubilee Service: A Joint Community Service Project of Jaro I and II Ward

May 13,2009 Saturday: Yesterday our ward, Jaro II Ward together with Jaro I Ward (my former ward), had a joint activity in our effort to complete our Jubilee Service as we will celebrate the Church's establishment here in the Philippines. We assembled at around 7:00 in the morning and waited for other members to join us in cleaning the Jaro Plaza. According to Bishop Timmy Tigulo, there are around 48 members in our ward and around the same number were present from Jaro I Ward. Children from the Primary organization, Mothers from the Relief Society, Young Men and Young Women from the Youth, Priesthood Leaders, Single Adults and even Full-time Missionaries that were assigned to our Ward joined in the cause to clean up the community plaza.

When we arrived in the place that we need to clean, municipal hired cleaners were already there sweeping, grass mowing and maintaining the plants. We helped them mow the grass, clean the park and distributed leaflets that contains the list of supplies and products that every family could store in their houses in case of emergency since today is the first anniversary of the flood caused by Typhoon Frank. Such an incident prove that our leaders were indeed inspired by God when they admonished us to keep a 72-Hour Kit which includes food, medicine and other necessities supply. Basic needs of every man such as crackers, bottled water, canned goods, clothes and other important documents should be placed in a water-proof storage box that could be easily accessed in case of emergencies.

My mom was inspired to store food supplies such as noodles, canned goods, bottled water and medicine supplies that proved to be really helpful when Typhoon Frank struck our area and Kalibo. Since Jaro is known to be a place of constant flood, we were highly affected during the said event. However, the Lord has blessed us with the supplies that we stocked that in times that others would crave to purchase their supplies, we were safely tucked inside our home and enjoying the result of our decision of listening to the Prophet's counsel.

Many people were so cynical with us because they thought that what we're distributing was our Church's doctrine. Some crumpled the leaflets, threw it away, used it in making fire for their Bibingka (rice cake) that they're selling in the park. It's so saddening that even bystanders continued on their usual activities without even taking a look at the fliers that we gave them. At the moment I prayed to my Heavenly Father that He would bless their souls and that in times of catastrophic events, they would be able to withstand it since they're not even trying to prepare for such circumstances.

From 7:00 until 10:00 in the morning we helped in cleaning the park and it was fun to have every member of our ward continue in our cause of Mormon Helping Hands. We love to help the people and show love to them even if they're very skeptic with our intentions. We know that in serving them we are showing that we are indeed servants of the Lord.

We ate burger and camote fries in Mang Inasal afterward. It was so good to be energized again. Serving the community has helped me develop a greater love for the place I live and hope to make it a better place to live in, my fellowmen and the Lord. I love every single opportunity to serve because in the process, I know I will get to learn a lot of principles that in the long run helps me become the daughter my Heavenly expects me to be. As I serve my community, I am preparing to serve my God in the mission.


Missionary Preparation: Documents

A month ago me and my friends decided to prepare to serve the Lord through mission. Most of the young men in our ward are currently serving in the field and I feel the need to follow their footsteps too. No matter how hard it would be and whatever risks I would need to take. I have been blessed with a great job and lots of opportunity but I knew that God gave them to me to test me as to how far my faith would take me. A month ago I also decided to resign from my telemarketing job only to extend the plan so I could wait for my medical papers to have arranged and completed. Our company paid a health insurance for us since I have been working with them for a couple of yeas and a month now. It includes all the necessary Annual Physical Exam and the tests that are part of it such as dental, CBC and other medical tests that are also required to be undergone by a prospective missionary. It may seem like a coincidence for some but for me I know the Lord must have prepared the way for me so that I could go and serve Him in the field.

Our bishop, Bishop Timmy Tigulo, gave us a list of documents and steps that we need to prepare in order for us to go and serve the Lord. The very first document is entitled, Request for Supplemental Financial Assistance for Full-time Missionaries. The very first requirement for prospective missionaries is their and their families' financial readiness in their journey to the mission. It requires the prospective missionary to fill in the financial support available from the missionary himself, from the family and other local sources such as ward members help and other sources. The first source which is myself is the very thing that I am preparing for right now. I stopped from my marketing course from Central Philippine University for this semester so I could save the money for my mission. I also took an online job as a Virtual Assistant so I could raise a considerable amount of money that I could spend for the requirements, in the field and leave some for my mom while I am away. It's a little challenging for me because my mom depends on me. Our expenses are regularly met because of the salary that I am getting from Callbox as well as my salary from my VA job. So some are asking that why do I need to go and leave all the opportunities and blessings that I am currently enjoying behind. I have one simple answer for that query, I know the truth and I need to spread the word. The truth has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and I know that if I continually prepare to become a full-time missionary, all the blessings that I will leave behind will all come back to me and that I need to share the blessings to other people as well.

Priesthood Leaders' Comments and Suggestions
The Bishop or the Branch President will evaluate the prospective missionary and give his recommendation. Bishops have this great power of discernment and they would know that the member in their fold is capable enough for the great task ahead. Afterward, the Stake or Mission President will then give his own evaluation and recommendation.

Bishop Tigulo told me and Sister Michele Joyce Araneta that we are not required to serve the Lord in the field since sisters were actually admonished to prepare for an eternal family. However, he is happy that we both have the great desire to go and serve the Lord in full-time mission. Many times have I heard that all the leaders in the Church do not encourage the sisters to go because we need to prepare to become mothers of our posterity. I know that my calling to become a mother would be forever and that I am grateful that the Lord has entrusted such a responsibility to the sisters. However, I felt the need and desire to serve Him in the field prior to that eternal calling. I knew that many souls are waiting for me to assist them from their wandering path and help them return to their Heavenly Father. Also, I know that if I will serve the Lord with all my might, mind and strength, He will bless my life and my posterity as I get to experience and learn a lot of wonderful things in the field.

Missionary Recommendation
It is an assessment of oneself as to one's capabilities and talents. This will become one of the basis as to where a prospective missionary will be assigned. If you're used to filling up University Admission Application, then this form wouldn't be new to you because it requires you to fill up your Personal Information such as Name, Address, Community Record, Citizenship and the Languages and Dialects that you're able to speak. A prospective missionary is also required to fill up Additional Information such as Years of Schooling, Years in Seminary/Institute, Academic Performance, Military Service Record and Parents Information.

Today our speakers in the sacrament meeting talked about the importance of seminary and institute and I felt that this document proved that indeed having gained spiritual education also helps a prospective missionary in preparing for serving the Lord in the mission field. I have not been much blessed to attend the seminary in our area in Kalibo, Aklan because I became a member of the Church when I was 15. When I was sixteen I was already in College making me eligible to attend institute. However, due to unavailability of an Institute Building and Instructors in our building, I sit in with the seminary students instead.

Instructions for Missionary Candidate
The word candidate made me ponder for a while that serving the Lord requires really a lot of desire, persistence and preparation. Once you are a candidate for something, in a pageant for instance, you need to practice a lot and prepare every needful thing. Being a missionary is not just something that you can apply without thorough preparation. Imagine the knight's, guards and other servicemen have to go through before they become servants or part of a king's army of defenders. In the work of the Lord, I know it requires more than just physical preparation, mental, financial, but most importantly, spiritual preparation.

Personal, Medical, Dental and Insurance Information are other documents that I need to prepare in order for me to be fully prepared and pass my application for mission. I know that these are just some of the preliminary requirements in order to become a good servant of the Lord. I know the Lord will bless me and pave the way in the whole process. I know He's been preparing a valiant servant in me and all I need to do is to prepare and make my own move.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Me and my mom became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I was 15 years of age thus making me a five-year-old member of the said Church now. Well almost, I was baptized last December 25, 2004 by Elder Louie Torres. Prior to my baptism, Elder Colt Adam Kalcich and Elder Salen taught my mom the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Our neighbor, Sister Letecia Roberto, referred my mom to the missionaries and the two wonderful young men that always wear white shirt and colorful neckties taught her for like a couple of months and she was baptized ahead of me. My conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ wasn't exactly as easy as others might have been. For some they're too lucky to have been born in the covenant. The conversion wasn't exactly easy mainly because I was so skeptic with the religion and feared that my friends and classmates would ridicule me for diverting from my old religion. I've learned later that there was only one member of the Church in our school when I was in high school, and she's my neighbor. Jihan Isberto and her whole family were the sort of "Pioneers" in our stake and our area. Her grandfather, Brother Ruben San Gabriel, was even first Stake President of our stake.

During the time that I opened my mind to the teachings that the missionaries are giving us, I was simultaneously corresponding through letters with Jihan. She admonished me to listen to the missionaries and get a testimony of the gospel on my own in contrast to the usual teachings of other denominations that they feed you with their own testimonies hoping that you'd absorb it too. We attended the Sunday services, Family Home Evenings and ward activities that helped me prepare in receiving the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Two most important people that helped in my conversion are Sisters Joan and Joy Riingen. They befriended me, shared their testimonies, visited together with the full-time missionaries and most of all, became great examples of humble and virtuous young women. Their parents are not members of the Church but they continually show amazing faith and press forward in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It occurred to me that it's a challenge for both Joy and Nang Joan to help in the conversion of their parents and strive to become living proof of their faith and testimonies.

For almost five trial-filled years now, me and my mom continually pressing forward in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and always strive to live as Jesus would want us to. I had been blessed with several callings such as Stake Family History Staff, Youth Sunday School Teacher and the latest is the most rewarding of all, Relief Society Teaching. My most favorite and admired organization of the Church is the Relief Society because it's from where great women, mothers and family are being molded. It's such an honor to be chosen as their advocate in learning and get to share my testimony to the superb mothers that has always inspired me.

From my hometown in Kalibo, Aklan, I was blessed to get a job as a telemarketer here in Molo, Iloilo. Callbox or Parallel Processing Corporation hired me on May 11, 2007 as an outbound sales representative and up to now I am so blessed to have become part of the said homegrown yet prolific organization. My job has enabled me to pay for my tuition fee, our rent and daily expenses. I know that everything that I am enjoying now are results of my labors and much faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. There's so much events that have transpired since my baptism. Some are a little to harsh and too challenging, some are just pure bliss. The thing is all of them contributed to the formation of a better me. I believe that every little thing and event that happens to our lives all have significant roles in our growth.

In our journey we get to meet new friends, leave the old ones behind but the memories won't leave us. It would stay where it was planted and would eventually grow as we learn to adjust, accept and embrace the fact that there's nothing really constant in this world but change. I attended a year in the Central Philippines University with the course of Marketing Management. I decided to stop now so I could better prepare for my mission and save considerable amount of money that I could leave my mom behind while I am off in the field serving the Lord. You see I am her only daughter and everything we spend depends on my income. When I will serve the Lord full-time I will not be able to raise the money we would both need to survive, so now is the time to prepare to meet God, I mean now is the time to prepare to seve God.

I knew the truth, I knew that God knew it really was and I can't just leave my back to it. I am inspired to serve Him through mission in 18 months. I know there will be a lot of trials that me and my mom both have to encounter but have stronger faith than our trials are. We know the gospel of Jesus Christ to be true and that we need to stay TRUE to it. I know that my conversion to the truth restored on Earth paved the way to my preparation to serving the Lord through missionary work.