Missionary – Someone who leaves their family for a time, so others can be with theirs forever. (however that goes)

First and Last Filipino Ward Christmas Party

Sister Wood and her Bishop
Sister Wood entitled this picture – All of My Favorite Things: Sunset, La Paz, Favorite Star

Merry Christmas! I hope it is white Christmas at home, just for the sake of my sanity, because it sure isn’t here. 🙂 haha. But I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! This will be my first and last Christmas here in the Philippines, and I can’t even begin to describe how weird it feels. We had our ward Christmas party and that was a hoot. You can see pictures! And here in the Philippines, at Christmas time there are so many carolers! SO MANY! Except………they come and sing and expect money. So it is hard! Because you feel so bad, but we just end up taking out a Resoration pamphlet and tell them this will make you a lot more happy than money! I just need to soak in all of these things because i won’t get it again! 
Every morning this week we went and played basketball with the elders. Besides the day I had too bad of ingrown toenails to play. But don’t worry, I worked the “soak them and work the skin” method my dad always told us, and it surprisingly worked. Anyways, basketball was a blast. Of course even at 6 in the morning kids would come out and watch us giant americans try and play basketball. I accidentally broke my companions glasses when we were playing, so that wasn’t very cool of me. Good thing she is tough! haha. 
Oh my heavens, so this week we were teaching a less active family out far away from centro. We were sitting on this really low couch, so my skirt was on the ground. As we were teaching I looked from the corner of my eye on the ground I saw something moving, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I thought maybe a lizard, so no big deal, but then I actually looked at it and was like ANO YON SISTER!!!!!! It was the size of a lizard (so pretty small), couldn’t see any eyes, dark color, and white whiskers, and moving very slowly. It started crawling next to my skirt and then they said BAO (rat). So yeah it was a tiny newly born rat that had crawled in and was touching my skirt. They just put it in a bag and threw it outside. So that’s that story. 
At our ward Christmas party this week the missionaries had to put on a little presentation and so we decided to use the skit that one zone used to “The Hardest thing I have ever Loved to do.” We pulled it off. With 6 people. I was the mom, and it turned out SO GOOD! We made it a spritual thing and everyone loved it. Besides the fact that I think since it was english, the filipinos didn’t payattention to the words, and just the actions. So they thought that I was the Elders girlfriend. But filipinos are all over that type of stuff, so whatever haha! Everyone did such a good job of acting it out and it was just perfect. I have it on video, so you can see it when i get home! 
The Gospel is an amazing thing. The Spirit is an amazing thing. Teaching a lady out in La Paz this week named Glenda. Cool cool lady. We were teaching her about the book of mormon and at the end of the lesson she began to tell us how we were one of the signs she has been given that this is what her family needs right now. She needed a change. There was just something about this situation that as she told us her experience I looked around. We were in this tiny little shack with banana leaf roof, blazing hot, goats running around, and the smell was horrid. Yet the Spirit was there testifying to this sister that this is what she needed. The goose bumps on her beautiful dark skin in the heat of the day. It truly testified to me that this is the Lord’s work. The Spirit is what converts these people, and can touch the hearts of the people no matter what the conditions. 
At this time of year the one thing a lot of missionaries would say is, “I miss my family.” And I would be right there with them. But as I stop and think about it for a second, we need to be here. The statement about a missionary, “someone who leaves theirfamily for a time, so others can be with theirs forever, has always stuck with me. I want to share a little story about an elder here in our mission from the Philippines. He was in our district, and his experience was shared at Christmas conference. He was a convert to the church. When it began time to start preparing for him to go on a mission, his dad told him that if he went on a mission he would have no family when he got home. He is now here on a mission. Helping families have the oppportunity to be with each other forever, even at the price of giving up his own family. He hasn’t received one email or letter from any of them his whole mission. When I heard this story about this elder I just choked up because I have a loving family that I get to go home to. He doesn’t. This time spent here is nothing in the scheme of eternity. The story of this elder has taught me so many things. But I just want to say, as a missionary, how amazing it feels to be working in the Lord’s army with soldiers that are strong enough to give up everything, even their family, to serve God. I am so grateful that to be able to help the families we have taught come close to our savior jesus christ. Through all of the hardships and frustrations, it doesn’t matter. What matters is helping other families receive the restored gospel. I know that all of us are God’s children, so we are all family. As we help our family members, brothers and sisters, receive the same gift we have, that is where we will find our greatest joy. I want to say how grateful I am for my earthly family, back home in Utah right now. Being half way across the world you realize how much your family means to you. I know why they are the central unit of the gospel, and why they are ordained of God. I love them so much. I am so lucky. Yes, I am sad I can’t be with them at this time, but we have an eternity together. 🙂 
I want you all to know that I have an ever strong testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that God sent his son to atone for the sins of all mankind. As we testify of him every day, it gives us missionaries strength. I know that he is walking right beside us. I know that he has endured every thing that we are going through and truly wants us to turn to him so he can lift our burdens. I hope that we can all remember him this Christmas. Cause we all know that we just have to drop the last syllables, and we have the Spirit of Christ. Merry Christmas! 🙂
Sister Wood
P.S. Just to show you how funny tagalog is: 
womb = bahay bata (direct translation is house of the child. bahay = house bata = child)
Hahaha I love this language. 

Sister Wood’s Church/Scripture Bag – Made from a banana tree

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