Monday, March 14, 2016

5 Months In - Reaching Spiritual Milestones

Hello Sweet Family! And Happy Valentines Day!

 Let's talk about spirituality. It's an interesting thing in how it plays a role here vs. the U.S. For the most part, everyone here believes in Christ. It is absolutely unheard of for someone to be "not religious" or to not believe in some God.

For some, depending on who reads this, I know the whole nature of spirituality may be pretty foreign, especially considering the fact that for many in America, the extent of spirituality is yoga, let's be honest.

I don't know how to explain this other than saying that in being here, you can almost feel the difference. People have the power of belief. The hard part in teaching is finding where their faith comes in. For some reason this week I feel like I have gone miles in building my faith and testimony - especially these last few days - because of the things I've learned and all the crazy things that have happened. It's like I'm reaching a point or depth of it I didn't even realize existed before and it's such a learning experience.

 What may you ask happened this week?

I'll start with my Human of the Week: Sister F: from Park City; 2 cycles ahead of me in the mission; and was Sister G's (my MTC companion) trainer. She is now in my district as well and because their area is so far away from the church, she and her new companion often come stay with me and Sister Erandio for church or meetings. Roommates!

 A couple of days ago, we get a call that she and her companion - Sister E (philippina who's in my batch - came with me from Manila) are coming to Calbayog as fast as they can because Sister E is very sick and it is an emergency.

We had to go get a specific medicine for her and then meet them at our apartment. That night we took care of Sister E and calmed her and talked to Sister F because of everything she just went through.

This is what happened: Sister E had been throwing up for days and they couldn't figure out why and nothing was working. One day when she says she's okay, they go out to work and she suddenly starts shaking. She leaned over and it looked like she was having a seizure (Sister F's words). Once her body regains control, they go to a members house nearby and by this point Sister E is sobbing because she doesn't know what is wrong with her.

 One thing you should know about the Filipino people is though they are very faithful and spiritual, they are also EXTREMELY superstitious. Because of Sister E's crying there was soon crowds of people gathered around her, all of them giving their opinions about what was wrong and shouting orders (in all their various languages) at Sister F (who's still not fluent) about what she should do for her companion.

 For the most part, everyone thought she'd been poisoned. No, not with food. They believe if someone stares at you too long and thinks bad thoughts, they can poison you.

As this is happening, a black butterfly flies into the house - another superstition. Just complete chaos.

So everyone swore she'd been 'poisoned' and insisted she be taken to a Faith Healer. After declining several times the crowd became too much and they took her to a faith healer nearby. The 'Faith Healer' takes Sister E's sprite bottle, opens it, waves his hand over it, and mutters some words. Then has Sister E drink it.

Sister F takes her home straight after, the crowd follows, she grabs as much stuff as she can get, and they hop on a ride here to Calbayog.

 By the time they got here, we had to convince Sister E that we did not believe she was 'poisoned', and that there was no bad spirit in the house because the fire alarm went off....another story.

 So that was quite the experience just hearing their story and all that happened afterward.

 That night, I watched the new Bible movies the church just put out. Sister F's mom sent them to her in a package. The parts I got to watch I just loved, especially because I have so recently been studying the life of Christ in the Bible and Jesus the Christ.

 I absolutely love the way they portray Christ and we ended up staying up til 2 in the morning just having the most spiritual talk and discussing the mission and everything we're doing here. Honestly, that girl can change lives. She just has the absolute most profound things to say about the gospel. It was just such a good experience.

This is one thing I really loved that she spoke about. A man who took part in the making of the Bible videos is in her ward, and got their young woman's group an in in going to go see the site where it was filmed. Getting there was super weird, because it was in the middle of nowhere, and like a ghost town. She said it was like the church made sure it was hidden. The church put so much money into this it was crazy. They pretty much built a tiny Jerusalem. They had experts come in to make the architecture correct to the time period, and they dedicated the whole area. The actors were searched for intensively and the whole thing was just such a spiritual experience for everyone involved.

 This sweet old man who had taken part in the behind the scenes stuff was the one who guided them around, telling them about everything. One thing that was really cool was the weather, he said. It was like God was extending his hand to assist in the film production. He said the weather was just unreal in how it perfectly fit every single scene they filmed - the rain, the sunset, a gust of wind here. It was amazing.

He spoke about how unbelievably real it felt each time they'd start shooting. All of the actors spoke of it too. There is a scene where the Savior is being prepared for the cross and he is leaning up against a gate with someone whipping his back. They had to stop filming several times because the actor who was doing the whipping couldn't control himself. He would just break out sobbing. He wasn't actually whipping the guy of course but he just felt the realness of it. He'd gain control and they'd start filming again and then have to stop soon after. I wish so bad I could've been a part of this project!!! What a cool experience!

 So my challenge to all of you is if you get the chance, get the Bible videos and watch it with your family on a Sunday or Family Home evening or something. Watch them at a time when it can be given reverence and attention. Find the scriptures that go with the stories or read the excerpts from Jesus the Christ.

 The language is going well. I can lead most lessons and we've met some really great people this week. Also, I am speaking waray waray still in this area! I don't think I told anyone that! In Allen, I was speaking waray waray to them, but they were mostly speaking Allenese and Tagalog to me. Getting here, they are speaking the same language I am, for the most part. There were definitley some more words I needed to memorize. You'd think I'd catch on pretty quick to the change because they're now speaking what I am, but it definitely took some getting used to because it was a change from Allen.

 The things I'm learning on this mission....just things I didn't even know you could learn or even existed. I hope I can keep it going.

Missions are the hardest but the best.

 Have a wonderful week! Spread the love. Give a Valentine even if it's late:) Love you all! Sister Russon

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