Saturday, December 26, 2015
Sister Lockwood is home now and will be speaking in church tomorrow morning (December 27th) at 9:00. All are invited to attend! Many have been following this blog over the last 18 months and we would love to see you at the meeting tomorrow where Kayla will be speaking in person about her experiences in the Philippines. The address for the church is: 4411 Windfall Rd, Medina, OH 44256.
Monday, December 14, 2015
This was a band going around in our area last night playing Christmas songs for everyone! I love the Philippines!!
The whole mission was there (at the mission tour) so we took a picture with our MTC batch! That was really fun..until one of the Elders started doing the haka in front of EVERYONE for us sisters who were going home. Hahaha. Good times living with islanders!
I love my companion!! She is a sweetheart. I have been helping her prepare to take over the area. She reminds me a lot of Nathan (:
Kay Ocsin's baptism!
This is my last pday! I cannot even believe it. I feel so many emotions. I am overwhelmed with excitement to see everyone again but at the same time I feel so so sad knowing that I have to take off my name tag and not be a missionary anymore ):
As I enter into my last few days in the mission field, I can't help but reflect on the past 18 months and my past life experiences that brought me to this point. It is unbelievable that these days of walking the streets of Manila to preach the gospel are coming to a close.
My whole life, I have dreamed of being a missionary. I remember sitting in primary, feet not even able to touch the floor singing, "I hope they call me on a mission, when I have grown a foot or two." We would say "When I grow up, I want to be a missionary in...fill in the blank." Of all the times I dreamed of being a missionary, I don't think I ever expected to serve in the Philippines. I recall youth conferences and efy's singing with my fellow youth, "We are as the army of Helaman. We have been taught in our youth. And we will be the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth." I prepared and waited so long for the day the call would come.
Then, last February, the white envelope finally came! I remember carrying it around with me all day wondering what could possibly be inside. Would I go Spanish speaking? Stay in the USA? Maybe I'd go to a visitor center. Never did I think I could possibly get called to the Philippines.
I'll never forget opening my call and reading those words:
"Dear Sister Lockwood:
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Philippines Manila Mission.... You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Tagalog language."
That day I didn't even know where the Philippines was on a map! Let alone how to speak a single word of Tagalog. I had absolutely no idea what was ahead of me. But the Lord knew.
I remember leaving my family in the Cleveland airport.. And arriving in Manila for the first time. Everything was so new.. The smells, the sounds, the people, the language. It was such an adventure and I was completely terrified! I couldn't help but wonder during those days in the MTC...Looking outside of my window at the sky scrapers and wonder if I could really do this! But the Lord knew.
In my first area, I was sent to the island of Palawan. It was there that I really started to learn what it meant to be a missionary. It was then that I really just fell in love with the people. The Segovia's, the Lopez's, Sister Chua, Joy Custodio. These wonderful people became my family! As did follow in Makati and here in Las Pinas.
Now, 18 months later, I know how to speak Tagalog. I'm used to the city traffic of Manila.. I survived all of the crazy food and adventures of living in the Philippines. But that isn't the biggest miracle.
Many people think they serve a mission to help other people come unto Christ. I have been blessed with so many opportunities to do that. I have helped families and individuals make covenants in the waters of baptism and then help them along the path to the temple. But even that hasn't been the biggest miracle.
In the MTC Sister Bowen taught us, "The most important convert you will have on your mission will be yourself." The biggest miracle of my mission has been me! I have been changed. I am a different person than I was 18 months ago. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He has turned the experiences I have had here into opportunities for me to grow and to become more like Him. He has filled my heart with charity for the people here. He has blessed me with the Holy Ghost and helped me to repent and to change.
I will be eternally grateful for the choice I made to serve a mission. I feel so much gratitude for every primary teacher, bishop, and leader that helped get me here. The blessing of being raised by goodly parents and in a Christ centered home shaped me into the missionary that I am today. I love my parents so much and am so grateful for every sacrifice they made to help me to be here.
I love Jesus Christ. I know He lives. He is truly the reason behind all that we do as missionaries. I am so grateful for the chance that I have come to know Him better.
I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. We are His children. I have testified of that truth every single day since I have come here. That was the first sentence I learned in Tagalog. He truly does love us and answers our prayers.
I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He saw God the Father and Jesus Christ and restored the same church that Christ established when He was on the Earth.
I know that Thomas S. Monson is a true prophet that leads us today! I love him.
I know with all my heart that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is Christ's church on the Earth today.
What a blessing it has been to be an authorized representative of Jesus Christ and His church. The days I have spent declaring His name have changed my life. I will never be the same because of it.
I know that God knows us! He knew all along that I needed to come and be a missionary in the Philippines. He really does have a perfect plan for each of us.
I love you!! I cannot WAIT to see you in just a few days!
For the last time....
ps. This week we have the Christmas party tomorrow! That will be fun. The whole mission will be there again. Then I will have a going home interview with president either Wednesday or Thursday. They haven't told me the plans yet for Thursday night but I know that I'll have to be at the airport by around 6:30! So with the traffic here I'll have to wake up at like 3 or 4! I'll definitely get lots of sleep on the plane.I might try to call from the airport in Detroit if I have time..but if not I'll see ya in Cleveland!
Our last trip to the temple as missionaries
All of the missionaries going home in December
Going home packets
An early Christmas present...mission aprons!!
Don't forget to be grateful and happy! Even when hard times come, there is joy and gratitude to be found in the gospel.
Love you!! See you on Friday!!
Sunday, December 6, 2015
This is Christian! We taught him the plan of salvation.
This is Nanay Santos who gave me a necklace (:
Saying goodbye to Sister Veras. She got transferred to Palawan. I'm now with Sister Terabwena from Kiribati. (pronounced kitty-bes) She will take over the area with a new companion when I leave. She's been out about 10 months. She's a sweet heart.
It was Kay Ocsin's 8th birthday this week! She'll be baptized this Friday! Her family was reactivated earlier this year. We celebrated with a birthday cake! She was so happy (:
Dear Family,My heart is so full today! Its so hard for me to believe that I am entering my final days as a sister missionary. This week as we worked and taught I started to see things differently knowing that it is all about to be over. I wish I could just carry around a video camera all day to really just let you feel what this has been like for me! Before I came out on my mission, I knew it would be hard, but I honestly don't think I ever could have imagined the blessings that were in store. As I reflect on the past year and a half, I am just filled with gratitude for the experiences that I've had here.
To be a sister missionary is to be filled with the Holy Ghost. As a missionary, we live a very different kind of life than we normally do. We don't listen to fun music or go out with friends. We make lots of sacrifices for the reason that we need the spirit to be with us. For the past 18 months I have lived in such a way that I have had the spirit with me almost all the time. I have woken up every morning and immersed myself in the scriptures and words of living prophets. We study for 2-3 hours every day and just do everything we can to have the guidance of the Lord. Even though I have missed music and movies and normal life things.. The peace and direction that I have been blessed with because the Holy Ghost has been so close has been such a blessing. It has amazed me at how many times we have been at the right place at the right time just when someone needed us. It is because of the Spirit that is with us as missionaries.
To be a sister missionary is to be a teacher. This has been one of my aboslute favorite parts of being a missionary. Here in the Philippines, the majority of my day is spent in the homes of others teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ. We teach and preach about the Restoration of the Gospel, the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We teach commandments and help our investigators to really understand and live the gospel. This week I had the most amazing experience teaching the Plan of Salvation. It is through teaching that we help others to understand and feel the truthfulness of the gospel. We were teaching our investigator Christain the Plan of Salvation. We asked, "What do you feel your purpose in life is?" He said, "Sisters, that is what I have been praying to know. I don't know what my purpose is." I just lit up and tears came to my eyes as we opened in the Book of Mormon to read about what our purpose is in life. I just thought to myself, "what is my life going to be when I don't get to do this everyday?" Being a teacher of the gospel has brought me so much joy.To be a sister missionary is to be everyone's sister. Literally, I feel like my name has been "sis" or "sister" for the past 18 months. Everyone-members at church, little kids on the street, or guys riding by on motorcycles all call out "Sister!" every time we pass by. Sister in Tagalog is "kapatid na babae" or "ate". To be someone's sister means to be their friend, to guide them, to help them, to teach them and to love them. Here in the Philippines, I have been everyone's sister! Even though I may not know them at all, the people treat me like family because they know who I represent. They know that I'm a missionary. Every single day, strangers let me into their homes..but they don't treat me like a stranger. They open up to us about their lives, their families, and their struggles. Often they give us food and a place to rest. They listen to our message and just love us. I could share countless experiences with you of people who have just loved me like I was their real sister from the first moment they met me. I think of Nanay Montilla in my first area. My first week in the mission field she had me over to teach me how to eat fish and rice with my hands. I think of the Segovia family who treated Sister Teo and I like we were their own daughters. I remember the Berdin family helping me when I had bed bugs and lice haha. Even just this week, a sister in our area found out that I was going home soon and so she gave me a necklace from Cebu. Or a sister we met on the street invited us into her humble home and shared about her experiences in typhoon Yolanda last last year. It has been absolutely incredible just being a sister to everyone.
Monday, November 30, 2015
Visiting a family with Sister Mata and Sister TuaTonga
With Sister Mata and Sister TuaTonga
Happy Thanksgiving! There actually is no Thanksgiving here in the Philippines..but I really took some time this week to think about the blessings that Heavenly Father has blessed me with over the past year and a half in the Philippines. I think that gratitude has been one of the biggest lessons I have learned here. Before I served here, I always thought of gratitude as something that we felt because of our blessings. I was grateful for my family, my home, my country, my health. Of course, that it a big part of gratitude. But what amazed me when I came to the Philippines was meeting people who were filled with gratitude who had none of those things. There are families here who live in homes with no electricity.. who all sleep on the floor crammed next to eachother. There are missionaries here serving with me whose families have disowned them for choosing to serve a mission. So many people are just living from day to day, praying that God will give them a way to eat that day. But yet these people are the happiest people I have ever met! They give thanks to God everyday and are grateful to be alive! The Filipino people have changed me. I hope that I have become a little more like them since I have been here.
One of the blessings that I was especially grateful for this week was my companions! As missionaries, we are always assigned a companion. We stay with them 24/7. Even if we come from different places or are different ages, they become your best friends. This week Sister Veras got sick and so I was assigned to be with Sister TuaTonga and Sister Mata. They are just such a blast and they have made me thankful to have the opportunity to meet so many different sisters from all over the world. From Fiji to Canada to Singapore, these girls have truly become my sisters.
Another blessing this week was our new investigator Christain! Missionaries are happy all the time (well, except when people don't come to church...), but we are most happy when we have investigators like Christain! He has been wanting to become a member of the church, and he has been like ward hopping for weeks trying to figure out where he was supposed to be! This week I attended Sister Mata and Sister TuaTonga's ward where he showed up and told us that he lives in St.Joseph! That is my area! We introduced him to the bishop and are so excited to get him started on his path to baptism.
There is SO much to be grateful for. Always. Even when it feels like our world is falling apart... I know that we can always chose to be grateful because I have seen that example in the people here, and I have learned it for myself. We are so blessed to be living at this time.. I am so thankful for the knowledge that I have of a loving Heavenly Father. He showers down tender mercies upon each of us every day. We just have to be humble enough to look for them and recognize them.
I love you! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving! I am SO looking forward to having a Merry Christmas with you!!
ps. This week will be good! Its transfer week... And we have going home activites tomorrow. So you can look for me on the mission blog!
Then next week we have a mission tour.. so Elder Bowen will be coming to talk to us.. and then the next week we have the Christmas party and I come home!! Eeee I'm so excited!!
Monday, November 23, 2015
Kayla will be speaking in church in Medina to give a report on her missionary experiences in the Philippines on Sunday, December 27th and everyone is invited to attend. There are many people who have followed her blog over the last 18 months who Kayla would be so excited to see and to meet. The meeting starts at 9:00 am at our church building at 4411 Windfall Road Medina, OH 44256. All are welcome!
The Amacio Family Sealing
Eden and Precious
What a memorable day at the temple!
Happy 21st Birthday to me! Thank you, Sis Veras for the cake!
I did know that Obama was here because ALL the roads were closed!! It took us 4 hours to get TO and then 4 hours BACK from the meeting where Elder Maynes spoke (and our entire zone was squished into 1 car with no aircon!!) This is just a peek at how crazy our car ride was because of President Obama!
This week was fabulous! It was my 21st birthday, and I only got fed 1 weird thing for dinner! Here in the Philippines, if they love you, they feed you. And if you love them, you HAVE to eat their food. When you don't, it basically sends them the message that you think they're a bad cook, and that you hate them and their entire family! Its a very personal thing. So, I survived the night! And Sister Veras got me a little cake from Goldilocks bakery (: It was so much fun to open your card and hear your voices!! I can't believe I only have 3 Pdays left before I actually get to hear and SEE you! :D
The highlight of this week, though was the Amacio sealing! It was the first live sealing I have ever been to, and it was such a special day for everyone there. 4 of our recent converts were also endowed before the sealing, and so we all were in the sealing room together. We got to help their daughter Precious get ready and then bring her into the sealing room after the endowment. It was something that I will never forget. I am so thankful that I got to have that experience before I leave!
Just to give you a little background on the Amacio's.. Eden comes from a member family, but has been less active for most of her life. A few years ago she married Novel, who wasn't a member. Novel's family is catholic. They live here in Las Pinas as well as Novel's sister Analiza and her family. Just over 1 year ago, the missionaries taught and baptized both Novel and Analiza.. And so the Berzo and Amacio families became an active part of the Las Pinas 1st ward! Eden and Analiza are now actually serving as 1st and 2nd counselor in the primary presidency. Some Sundays I just think to myself, what would the ward be like without them?
Even though 1 year ago was one of the biggest and greatest days of the Amacio's life.. This week takes the crown. For most people in the world, they love and cherish their families, but do not really know what will happen after this life. They get married, but say the words "until death do us part." Novel and Eden had been happily married and lived a happy life with their daughter Precious, but it was only temporary. It was only until death.
As members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, we believe that families are forever! Through the power and authority of God, families are literally bound together in temples all over the world. When Novel and Eden were married the first time it was for this life only. But this Wednesday, they were sealed with their words "for time and all eternity."
My favorite part of the sealing was when Precious came in. She is 3 years old and was dressed in a little white dress. I also just loved the look on Novel's face as he looked at his 2 girls.
It made me think about what it must have been like to be in Mom and Dad's sealing.. or Marmee and Grandpa's. I wonder what it will feel like when it's me!
I feel SO blessed to be a missionary. Families can be together forever through Heavenly Father's plan. The first part of the plan is baptism. But baptism is just the first step towards the temple. It truly is the house of the Lord. I am so thankful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where my family is made a forever family, too.
Anyway! I am really doing my best to be grateful and love every minute I have left here. I really will miss the sunshine and blue skies almost every day. I mostly will miss the people. I have learned so much here. I really wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I, too, love that I have had such a well rounded mission experience. I have lived the island life and the city life.. I have had slow times, but also been blessed with really really wonderful investigators and families. Physically, I have been more healthy than I could have hoped for! I expected much more sickness with throwing up and such... I have lived with people from all over the world! I understand cultures and people in a whole new way. But of course, I wouldn't trade all of this because along the way, I have come to know Jesus Christ in a whole new way. I love this gospel. I know the Book of Mormon way better than I ever did before. I know that it is true. This is a gospel of hope and faith and happiness! There are lots of hard times along the way, but it is those times that lead us back to our Father in Heaven.
Have a great week!!
Love, Sister Lockwood
Sunday, November 15, 2015
This is Jennifer! Isn't she cute? She is the daughter of one of our investigators.
This is Weng! We went and got ice cream with her this week because her rebond didn't work haha (:
We ran into Sister Teo at subway this week! She and Sister Veras and Sister Vaka are seriously my mission best friends (:
Thank you so much for all of the birthday emails! It is so crazy that I am going to be turning 21 this week. I am so filled with gratitude for the experiences that I have had here in the Philippines, and also throughout my entire life. Heavenly Father has been so good to me!
This week was a good week! Weng is really progressing and excited for her baptism in December! We taught her about the Plan of Salvation yesterday, and she just loved it (: She asked so many questions, and we can just see it in her eyes that now is her time to accept the gospel. She is such a blessing to Sister Veras and I!
Right now, Sister Veras and I are preparing for what our mission is calling a white Christmas! We have a goal as a mission that every missionary will have a baptism on the day after Christmas. Even though I'll be gone by that time, I am really trying to set this area up to reach that goal. We fasted yesterday as a mission, and Sister Veras and I were really praying for Tatay Virgillio and Kuya Arnold. They are both fathers, and the only nonmembers in their families. This week when we taught Tatay Virgillio we really testified of Eternal families. We had them imagine what this Christmas would be like for their family, and then what the next Christmas would be like as they would be preparing for their sealing. Christmas time is not an easy time to be away from our families, but it is the sweetest time to help other families become eternal.
Speaking of... the Amacio's are getting sealed this week! They were baptized/reactivated last November and we are SO excited for them. Kuya Arnold is actually the brother in law of the Amacio's...And so he will be coming to the temple and waiting outside. We plan on teaching him and are really praying that his heart will be ready for the gospel. He comes to church every Sunday, so please keep him in your prayers!
It should be a great week! I am so lucky to be in this area and be a missionary in the Philippines.
I love you!