Monday, October 20, 2014

Salvation is not Cheap

Hello My dearest family and friends! 
Well I left Claveria Tuesday. It was bittersweet. I love claveria and really love those people. Monday was FHE at the Curamengs. It was mahirap to say good bye. Members were crying... man I hate good byes. 
When I got to Bacarra... wow what a change, everyone is so rich and soo ilocano. I have never seen so many nice house my whole mission and I've had to step up my ilocano came since my companion is no longer an ilocana. It is crazy. The nice thing is that there are a lot of investigators here. So even though they're rich they're still willing to listen to the word of God. Now we just gotta getem' to church (: The Ward seems strong, a lot of good leaders and a lot of Return missionaries. That makes a big Difference.
My new companion is Sister Lumanog. She's awesome! She's pretty new in the mission, just finished her 12 week training. She's from Bacolod, Philippines and is a hard worker! It should be a good transfer! 
This week we've just been working hard and meeting all the people here. Once I get to know them better I'll tell you some awesome stories haha! 
This weekend we finally got to see conference! ah! It was amazing! I love how they are able to speak in their native tongue now. Maybe next year, Tagalog! 
I really loved the talks. This time I wrote a bunch of questions on things that I can do to become a better missionary. They were ALL answered better than I could have imagined! Our leaders are truly inspired and called of God! 

I've grown up always thinking that we live in a generally good world. You hear stories about bad things people do, but subconsciously I've always thought that that would never happen to me. or be done by anyone I know. I guess I was thinking I just lived in a protective bubble where nothing bad happens around me. I've always heard stores about persecution of the Church or Truth. They're everywhere, The bible, Book of Mormon, church history, even other missionaries in our day. I thought yeah people will reject our message I guess, but I didn't quite understand. It absolutely blew my mind and still does to this day that people don't want to listen and when they do listen that they aren't absolutely astonished. I mean this is the truth, Why aren't people flocking to the baptismal font? Let me put this in terms that we can understand, well at least us girls. For me, I felt like we are offering people a 100% off sale at H&M, or sportsman warehouse for you guys,  I mean right?? Wouldn't everyone be all over that?! The only thing is, it's way better than 'clothes' or 'things'. its the truth! The literal way to our salvation. YOUR SALVATION PEOPLE AH! 
Elder Uchdorfs and many others talks really put it into perspective for me! Something I remember Jeffrey R Holland Said to missionaries, "How could we ever expect it to be easy for us, when it was never ever easy for Him. Salvation is not cheap." What we're offering is not a 100% off sale at H&M, we're inviting others to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and to know how to return to our Father in Heaven. But it's not cheap and it most certainly is not free. We must give everything. The only people that will see that and understand are those that have truly been prepared by the Lord. To everyone else we're just another church or another place to go on Sunday. What they don't understand, this is everything, Everything we are and how we live. 
But we can't be discouraged because there are those out there that are searching, that truly want to know. We just have to find them. and through the miracles of God, we will! 
I love being a missionary! 
Sister Abelhouzen
Picture: a part of God's army Bangui Zone.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Baguio Season

sige po, wag po kayong magalala buhay pa ako. 

There was a big typhoon in the Philippines and it knocked out the power in our area and I'm not sure how long it will be out. but today we traveled to laoag for zone conference and got to email. also I had a cold glass of water, it was awesome. 
The  zone conference  was incredible and really motivated me to be better! We focused on a lot of things but these are some of the things that stood out to me: Leave behind all personal, this mission is not about us missionaries, forget it all. retain recent converts, the work is not done. asking inspired questions takes obedience and planning. fear is not real! I always seem to get exactly what I need to be a better missionary!
last monday was pretty awesome, we got to go to some more waterfalls. It was a pretty funny story though this cute little nanay in our ward said she knew where they were and we went, but we went to this random little swimming pool with a little spout. "nanay where is it??" "there! isn't it beautiful" gotta love filipinos they definitely find beauty in the little things! but don't worry we found it Tuesday we had the chance to Volunteer for a program that the church is sponsoring, it's called ligtas sa tigdas. Basically we just went around with the Health department and gave this children vaccinations for free for a disease that really harmful. for us in the U.S. we receive our MMR shots when we're babies, but most of these families can't afford it, so a lot of children get sick. It was really awesome to help out. My companion gave out vitamins and I gave the kids candy and comforted them after and before their shots. I loved it and the parents were really grateful we were there. It reminded me of volunteering in the E.R. 

When we got back from Zone Conference I was ready to work, Thursday we worked all day. It was so awesome! We saw so many miracles! I found my jam again... it's rough when there are storms and you're stuck inside.Well to my surprise Friday Morning we received a text from president telling us that we would not be able to work that day because another storm was coming...noooooo. ah I hate it. On the bright side we did get to stay with the petinggils again and ate delicious american food. but in the afternoon I felt like we needed to go visit one of our recent converts and so I text president and told him the storm wasn't too bad in Claveria so he approved, but told me to be careful and come home right after. So we did. Turned out being an awesome lesson. His son's whole family was in town and we taught about temple sealing, they seemed very interested so we told them we'd come back again. storms can't stop the work of God. Saturday we woke up to a sunny sky! "yes, this means work." I thought. After a few appointments, president texts again. "Nobody go out and work. don't be a hero. it's not safe." WHATTT? it's sunny! but don't worry, I did what I was told and went home. within a few hours the sky turned black and the storm was here. It really wasn't bad in Claveria, but in other areas it was. I heard in Vigan (my first area) their apartment was so flooded they were up to their chest in water... crazy.Sunday was good, but our attendance was really low because of the storms. Everyone just pray that there are no more! I wanna preach the Gospel! 

Love you all! have a great week! 

Sister Abelhouzen

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The bitter makes the sweet that much sweeter and Uhh... Merry Christmas??

My dearest family and friends,
This week we had a lot of bitter and finally some sweet. However it's okay because you can't appreciate the sweet without the bitter!
The thing that has been the hardest this week has been the Dalo Family. I love this family so so much but they aren't sure if they want to get baptized anymore. Ah no! In fact they were supposed to baptized on August 23, they were interviewed, passed and everything, but then they told us that they weren't ready. They needed more time so we picked a date with them and they decided September 13. However now they are second guessing. I can feel that Satan is really working hard on them. Please pray for them so they can push through and be baptized!
As for some of the sweet:
-We taught one of our investigators (a chain smoker) about the word of wisdom. He has been texting us every day to tell us that he is quitting and will prevail. He really has a desire to be baptized!
-Got to witness a beautiful blessing. A father of one our recent converts asked for a blessing. The problem is that he has tuberculosis. for those of you that don't know, this is a extremely contagious disease and it's air borne. We asked Elder Pettingil if he'd be willing to give the blessing and he just smiled and said, "I've never heard of anyone getting sick from giving a blessing." He then, because the father couldn't move, had to stick his hands through this window to give the man a blessing. It was beautiful and afterwards the man was so grateful and so happy that we came. #PriesthoodPOWER
-one of our investigator families was really struggling with coming to church. We had a powerful lesson about the Plan of Salvation and they need to attend church to be baptized and return to our Father in Heaven. Then early Sunday Morning we pull up to see them waiting out side the church. That is one of the best sites ever!
-I have found my love for family history. We did Tatay Caalim's family history and since it's really hard for him to speak and nanay can't remember anything we were just planning on doing a little bit. But then we come to find out that tatay had done it years ago but hadn't yet sent it to the temple. We were able to find all these old records and miraculously tatay was able to help us put it all together. It was so fun! I can't wait to do my work when I get home.
As for things here in the Philippines.. It's still hot and always rains, don't worry the bathroom is still full of spiders and it's incredibly beautiful. Apparently it's Christmas season... Everyone is putting up lights and Christmas trees and lot's of Christmas music.
This week in the scriptures: I just finished Alma and I'm so inspired by the stripling warriors. Just when you think they will be defeated they prevail and this is why, "They did obey and observe to perform every command with exactness; yea and even according to their faith it was done unto them and I did remember the words which they said unto me, that their mothers had taught them." Alma 57:21
So a big shout out to my momma. She's incredible and I know the reason I'm here fighting this fight is because of what she has taught me. I hope when things get tough we can do as the stripling warriors and keep fighting for our faith in Christ and remember what we've been taught from our mothers!
Love you all! and I guess Merry Christmas!

Monday, September 1, 2014

CPR the small and simple!

Kumusta ang magandang pamilya at mga kaibigan ko.

This week was a little bit more difficult than I'm used to here in Claveria, but that's okay. Still a good week and lots of miracles! 
Last monday we went to Laoag to withdraw our money for the month. It was awesome we went down with the Petinggil couple in their car! We went to the filipino mall and ate pizza hut! then on the way back up we stopped at this really cool light house! the oldest in the Philippines!
The rest of the week we worked hard, and were actually pretty punted. I think Heavenly Father is just trying to keep me humble because these last couple weeks we've been having tons of success. Well it worked and I really had to pray and fast this week for help. One of the things I've really been struggling with is Ilocano. Now I'm pretty comfortable saying that I'm pretty fluent in tagalog, but we still have quite a few investigators that only speak Ilocano... I feel like I'm starting over, but I'm still working hard and not ready to give up this fight. by the time I leave this place I will be tri-lingual ( is that right?) haha.
but after a couple discouragements we started seeing the blessings.
One of the families we have been working with said they know the church is true. their baptismal interview will be this week, because they have been consistently attending church for weeks now. They have the coolest story, but I'll save that for when their baptized(:
We had an incredible lesson with the Vega family. This family is very influential in the community and would really help our little branch. they are truly investigating and want to know. As I taught them I really felt that they will be baptized!
Sunday was really great. So I spoke, you know us missionaries always prepared. Our recent convert Tatay Cresendo and his wife sang in church how great thou art. They sang acapela  and tatay harmonized. the whole audience was in tears. It was incredible. They were so nervous, but I'm so glad they shared their talent! They also mad history being the first musical number in sacrament meeting in Claveria.
I arrived to church to find out that one of the speakers didn't know he was giving a talk... well sister Abelhouzen to the rescue. As the leaders were stressing out I volunteered to speak. the relief on the faces were priceless haha.
My topic was centered in the scripture "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass." Alma 37:6
Something I have really learned on my mission is how important the small and simple things are. They may be 'small' but they make a big difference.
For example: Every morning we must be out of the apartment at or before 8am. One morning in my first area, my companion and I were running late. Everyone was late to shower and nobody had eaten. Earlier that week my companion and I had set a goal to be out the door before 8am every morning. It was 7:55 and we hadn't eaten yet. Though hungry we decided to pray and leave so we could achieve our goal. Right after we left a man on a tricee passed and we flagged him down to take us to our first appointment. "perfect timing." we thought. we started talking to him and turns out he was pretty interested. we went back to visit him later that week. That man's name is Maurito Rigunay and in April he was baptized a and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Can you imagine if we would have decided to eat or if we were just one minute late?
I promise you that as we are exactly obedient to the commandments of the Lord, even the small and simple, the Lord will provide and we will see miracles.
This is true not only for us missionaries but for all of us in our lives.
We missionaries have a term we use a lot. CPR
C-attend church
P-pray daily
R-Read Daily
This three things are commandments of the Lord and are basically the commitments we leave to everyone. Though simple, it makes a big difference. I have seen that as people follow these small and simple commandments their spirituality becomes more sensitive, their desire to do good increases, and the distance between them and our savior is shortened.
I hope all of you will do the small and simple things in your lives!
The Church is true
The Book is blue
if you do these things, the Lord will bless you.
Yes cheesy... but true.
have a great week
palagi may pagmamahal ako para sa inyo!
Sister Abelhouzen

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Work is Hastening

Hello my dearest family! 
This has been a normal week full of hard work, brown outs, lots of rain, and miracles, always miracles.
A few experiences that we had:
1. my companion is fearless. She killed a rat by hitting it over and over with her shoe... while I was on top of my desk.
2. I ate chicken intestines... again. I've gotten pretty used to the food here; fish heads, chicken fat, balut, that's all fine, but I still can't get over the intestines... so weird.
3. yesterday at church we had a powerful Sunday school lesson. It was gospel principles and there were probably around 20 investigators in attendance. We were watching Finding Faith in Christ. It was amazing until, all of a sudden, a brown out. Everyone was sweating and the teacher was scrambling trying to find ways to fill the time. I was praying so hard that the power would come on and I didn't understand why it wasn't. Finally I just said, "Thy will be done." At that moment one lady stood up and bore a powerful testimony of Christ and how he has helped her in her life. The spirit was so strong and I realized that our investigators needed to hear that. 
4. Yesterday was also fast and Testimony meeting... the power was out so that means no power. which also means no microphone... nobody could hear anything President was saying as he started his opening announcements. Incredibly, just as they were about the bless a baby the power came back on. Coincidence? I think not (: Fast and Testimony meeting was incredible. Member after member stood and bore powerful testimony that Jesus is the Christ and this is his church. It was so incredible that it went over 30 minutes because they couldn't stop the heaps of people that wanted to share.
5. Have you ever tried sitting on the back of a tricycle in the pouring rain and then arriving to your meeting like you just stepped out of the shower? Welcome to the Philippines(: you just haven't experienced pouring rain until you've experienced a baguio in the Philippines. 

The area is doing pretty amazing here, everyone around can see how much it has started to progress and the incredible investigators that have been coming out of the wood works! Members have gotten really excited about the work and many people are preparing for baptism. There are a lot of factors that go into this: Hard work, obedience, quality teaching, but I do have to say that there is one thing I have noticed to be causing this work to hasten: Family History. I have been working very close to the senior couple, the Pettingills,  here on the mission. They're my secret weapon (; haha. Friends and Family across the world I would like to share a secret. If you want to see the work hasten and the baptisms increase, make family history a priority. People here in the Philippines didn't focus on their ancestors temple work, but once we started our work started to explode. The reason? These people in the spirit world have waited hundreds and hundreds of years and once they realize they have a chance, they will do everything to see that their name is found. These people started to see that the missionaries in Claveria are looking for their names, and just as Malachi prophesied, "The hearts of the children will turn to their fathers." Their hearts are definitely turning. People are stopping us on the street, begging us to teach them, Members are referring their friends, people are all of a sudden interested in what the "Mormons" have to say. When we ask why, they say "I don't know we just want to know more about your church." Or "we just felt we should." That feeling isn't just coming out of nowhere it is coming from those on the other side. When prophets and apostles have told us that we have help from the other side, they were not kidding. This work is real and the people that have passed need our help just as much as those that are sill on the earth. Please, if you haven't yet, do your family history work. And for my friends on missions, get your recent converts, members, and even investigators involved in family history. These people will bless your life in more ways than you can imagine. 

I am grateful everyday that I am a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! I love this gospel and I know it is true! 
I hope you all have an amazing week! 
Sister Abelhouzen

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hello my darling' family!

So this week was fast... and not to much happened. I got stranded in Laoag waiting for my new companion. She was stuck in Manila, because of the typhoon. don't worry we didn't experience much here except a lot of rain... what's new?

One good thing is that I got to work in my old area and see my old people it was great! Loved it until president told me I couldn't work anymore, because apparently I had a disease and was going to kill people. okay Ma, before you start freaking out. I'm totally fine. I just woke up one day with a rash all over my body. I asked some of the members and they told me I was allergic to air... okay? yeah I'm just going to text Sister Barrientos. I text her and she told me to go to the hospital and get it checked out. turns out I had a viral infection... don't worry I'm not allergic to air. haha but I wasn't able to go out because if a pregnant lady gets what I had it could be harmful... so I just had to sit inside... sound fun? no, it wasn't. All I wanted to do was work! 
Finally on Friday I was all better and I picked up my new companion! Her name is Sister. Simangan she is from Isabella and speaks ilocano! Yay! She's awesome! I just feel bad because when we got to the area we did weekly planning. Then I was so excited to work that on Saturday she must have thought that I worked her to death. She'll get used to it(;
But on Sunday our work payed off we had investigators come to church that are preparing for baptism in August! I'm really excited for all that's coming up! 
Thank you all for all your love and support! Have a great week! 
P.S. A lot of you have been asking about foods... I guess it all just seems normal to me now... hahah still eating fish heads on a regular basis. 

Picture: Me and Sister Simangan... it's flooding here like always (: 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Magandang Umaga po sa inyong lahat.

Magandang Umaga po sa inyong lahat.
This week was a great week and the last of this transfer... My dearest Sister Buduan is getting transferred. and here is for the big shocker... I'm training haha kawawa ang trainee ko. diyok lang. pero yes I'm very excited. I love new missionaries, because they're just so excited to get out there and do the work of the Lord. It'll be an awesome experience!
I had exchanges this week with Sister Teely! It was awesome! I learned a lot! She's from Fiji and is a   boss! 
Remember that less active family of over 30 that I told you about? well yesterday, nanay came to church. It is a miracle. She told me when I first met her that she would never come back to church, pero sapagkat masdan yesterday morning there she was!!! I was so excited! I know this is just the beginning and many more are going to return!
We also had baptisms this week yay! Brothers Sherwin Tuberra and Cresendo Agcaoili are officially members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!
Sherwin Tuberra was met by the missionaries a week before I got here and was extremely prepared to hear this gospel. He was at a point in his life where he was on the search for happiness, but he didn't want any of that temporary stuff. He wanted long lasting. That's when he saw the missionaries laughing and walking down the street. "I want that." He said to himself. Then he stopped them and asked for a pamphlet. When we met him for the first time he sent us away because he was embarrassed he was drunk.  We came back and he informed us that he has spent his whole life drinking and obtaining temporary happiness, but he wants real happiness, he wanted to change. He has not had a drink since.  He saw something different in us. The first time he came to church, he felt at home and found what he has always been looking for. He was confirmed yesterday and has already been called as a ward missionary. People used to refer to him as the drunk on the block, he is now Sherwin yung mabait. or 'the kind one'
Tatay Agcaoilie has been an investigator forever. let me give you a little time span. Elder Asuncion was one of the missionaries to teach him, after his mission he moved back to claveria, got married, is now the district president, and has 4 kids the oldest being 14 years old. Long time... the reason being tatay is just a little stubborn he wants to know everything, which I absolutely love because now I know he will remain a faithful member of the church for a long time. He has changed his life as well and is a good example to everyone around him. Everyone loves tatay he's incredible and KNOWS this church is true.
This gospel changes people! I'm happy to report that both will be receiving the Aaronic Priesthood next week and both cried during their testimonies! The church is true!
pictures: this morning we went hiking to the falls! and the baptism!