Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year!

 The Segovia Family

 The Estrelia Family

Skyping with my family on Christmas!

 Eating pork intestines

 Teresa was an investigator btw, who thought that we were rich foreigners who could give her money! So she told us that her husband was in prison and that he needed help. She even went as far as to write this note! But, awkwardly, it turns out her husband is a tricycle driver and didn't get the memo of his wife's lies and told us that he was teresa's husband! Hahahaha oh, mission life. 

Christmas morning with Sister Teo

Dear Family,
HELLO! It was SO wonderful getting to talk to you for Christmas! As a missionary, when we leave the skype we like over think everything and hope that we seemed excited enough and that we told everyone that we love them.. I LOVE the picture that you sent of Marmee! I am dying.. totally going to print that one out for my desk. 
Christmas week was so much fun!! When we were at our branch Christmas party on the 23rd, it hit me how much I LOVE Philippinos! They are a BLAST! And let me tell you, they know how to party.  There was food and dancing and games, and they love us missionaries so much.  At Christmas time, when I expected to be sad and missing my own family, I felt so at home with all of the wonderful people here. They truly have become my brothers and sisters.  This place will always be a home away from home. I will cherish the relationships that I have with each member, less active, and investigator. I am humbled every day by the faith and goodness of the people here. Despite the fact that they live with so little, they are always laughing and just so happy to be with each other. I don't know how I will ever be able to part from them!!! 
On Christmas Eve, we started making our rounds to all of the people we teach to take them Christmas gifts! We were given DVD's to give to them, and then we gave them some food and a Christmas card.  We caroled to everyone, and even though most people were laughing at us, it was so much fun.  Lots of people gave us food too! Haha, except on Christmas Eve, the little tindahan (cafe) we usually eat at for dinner didn't have very much food.  But one of the food items looked pretty good..But I couldn't really tell what it was. So I was like "Ano po ito?"-What is this. And the lady was like "Pork!" So I was like sweet! And got it with rice. Then I asked, "What kind of sauce is this? And she answered "dugo" or "blood"- haha, for some reason I was just thinking "haha that's weird, I wonder why they call it blood?" Yeah-turns out she was being serious! Because half way through my meal, I thought to myself "This is the weirdest pork I've ever eaten..." So I asked the lady "What kind of pork is this?" Then she goes "Intestine"..... Literally the moment she said that something changed inside my stomach. Hahahaha, the rest of the night we had to stop a few times for me to bend over and rest because of the stomach pains, but the next morning I woke up feeling just fine! hahahaha, oh the Philippines. 
But Christmas morning was a blast too! Sister Teo and I had gotten stockings for Sister Delaitubuna and Sister Falgui and so we suprised them and then had a big breakfast together (: And THEN we got to SKYPE!! It was SO GOOD to see everyone! I love that I still feel so close to you and that I could really feel your love even through the computer screen.
Then, we went to have lunch and we ran into a bunch of senior couples who paid for us! They told us that they take care of us missionaries because other people took care of their kids when they were missionaries (: I thought mom would like to know that. 
Mom, in response to your email...
We get 4,000 pesos on the 1st and on the 15th. We have to pay for fare and for electricity and for water, and for all our food and stuff like that. But-we really are going to start on the 1st to budget our money better! 
Dad, guess what! We had 2 complete families come to church and one sister reactivated!!! You could say that I am SO HAPPY to say the least!!
Hahah, we had our follow up training meeting yesterday and President Hiatt asked "Was today a good day?"  And we said, "Yes!" And he was like, "Why was it a good day?" And in unison, Sister Teo and I were like, "People came to church!" 
It really is SO sweet when people come to church (: I never knew one person could care so much about church attendance, but as missionaries we totally do! 
I loved getting to see you! You are my fave. I loved laughing with all of you and remembering how lucky I am to have each of you. 
I hope you have a great week and start this new year off strong! We are going to here! We have a goal of 100 OYMS! (OYM stands for Open Your Mouth...meaning new contacts with strangers) And we are gonna do it!! Both Sister Teo and I are really driven and kind of competitive, so that makes the work fun even when people don't always progress like we wish they did. I am still pretty sure that that competitive side of me comes from when I was little and you would say, "Lets race!" and you would never let me win. hehehe 
In the couple of hours following skype, though, I was feeling pretty crazy emotionally. I was thinking about all of you and what had changed, and what you would be doing the following Christmas morning. I was surprised to feel sadness as I missed you guys because I really am SO happy here! BUT- literally the second we walked into the home of someone we were teaching, as we began to work that day, all of those feelings disappeared and I was enveloped again for the love of the people here. Work really is the remedy for any form of homesickness! 
The sweetest experience that I had this week though, was with the Segovia family. The day after Christmas, their whole family was in town, and they really wanted us to come share with them. (The wife and son who we work with a lot are not active in church, but the Dad and daughter who were in town are very active.) We opened the lesson by singing "Families Can Be Together Forever." We all began singing the first verse together, but by the time it came time for the second verse, all of us had stopped singing because we were in tears. The spirit completely filled the room, and the quote "Missionaries leave their families for a time, so that others can be with their's for eternity" became so real. I was so thankful for that moment to share with this beautiful family. We set the goal for them to be sealed in the temple, and the following Sunday the whole family came to church. It was such a sweet experience that I will cherish forever. 
I love you all SO SO SO MUCH! I am so happy and just so in love with life! I don't know how I got so lucky to be here in this beautiful place with all of these beautiful people! Have a great week and be happy!!!
Sister Lockwood

Sunday, December 21, 2014

HE is the GIFT

At the Christmas party!

This is the community service project we did for Sister Segovia! We cut and burned all of the coconut tree leaves in her yard! SO FUN!!

This is the bascongada family with baby yen yen who has CSP

With Sister Joy who worked with us this week

The Lopez Family

Dear Family,
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM PALAWAN!! I hope all of you are happy and safe and enjoying the company of family and good food! I love you so much! 
Christmas time as a missionary is the greatest! Honestly, I was expecting to be so sad and depressed just missing my family like crazy, but I am just so at peace and so thankful to be where I am. It has been almost shocking to me to be in a place like this for Christmas.
There are no trees, no snow, no presents, no fancy gift wrapping, no stockings, no ANYTHING that resembles the Christmas's I am used to back home. When we walk down the street, you would think it was still the middle of August. 
BUT, despite the fact that outwardly, it doesn't feel much like Christmas, inside, I feel closer to the Savior in a way that I have never understood. I've always heard "remember the true meaning of Christmas." But until I've had the opportunity to go without all of the commercialization of the season, I've never really comprehended what the "true meaning" of this wonderful season is. 
This week we had our mission Christmas party! It was really fun. The Ostler's came dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and we did a service project for an orphanage in Manila.  We did our Nativity Play, and had a lot of fun being together.  At the end of the party, the Ostler's showed us a video they watch with their families every Christmas called "The 4th Wise Man." It tells the story of a 4th wise man who never made it to the birth of the Savior to add his gift to the gold and frankincense and myrrh. He didn't make it because he was met along the way with people who were in need of his help.  He kept being stopped and different beggars and leapers or disabled had need of the gifts that he had brought to give to the Savior.  At the end of this man's life, when he feels defeated that he had nothing left to give the Savior, Jesus Christ comes to him and says "You have already given me your gifts. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." 
THIS is the true meaning of Christmas.  It is coming to know He that was born for us.  It is spending our whole lives in the service of others because it is He that taught "As ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
I don't want you to be worried or sad for me this Christmas season.  I am having the opportunity to serve among "the least of these" and really walk and talk as the Savior would if He were here. Don't forget the real meaning of Christmas, or let yourself get worried about all of the expectations of a "perfect Christmas". The perfect Christmas comes from inside us! 
HE is Christmas. HE is the gift. And the only gift He wants from us, is the gift of ourselves. 
Sister Lockwood
PS. At our Christmas party- I had 4 packages on the stage! All the missionaries were walking by and like "these are all for one person?!" Its so ridiculous how spoiled I am!! Thank you all so much! Next time you feel like spoiling me, email me and I will give you the name of a Philippino missionary who probably will go their whole mission without receiving a package and you can send them one! Even just a letter would brighten their day sooo soo much.  We really have no idea how lucky we are.  I was seriously one of the only missionaries that got any packages and i got 4!!! how ridiculous is that. I am officially that american sister with the reputation of spoiled....
Also...haha funny of the week.. So i'm breaking out. which really is fine, but philippinos are so blunt they ALWAYS point it out to both me and Sister Teo. This week one investigator told us he could "cure our faces" LOLZ

Monday, December 15, 2014

Trust in the Lord

With my group on Palawan Island 

Companions and best friends 

Hello Family!
I know I say this every week, but it blows my mind how fast Monday comes again and again! Christmas will be here so soon and I'm so excited to talk to you! I'm really glad President told you about the no chatting thing.. I was nervous that you would be sad. But- I do know that miracles come from exact obedience!! And obedience always boils down to trust. If we trust that Heavenly Father loves us and really wants what's best for us, then we will keep His commandments, and we will trust that everything that we go through in this life is truly just to help us grow. Every experience we go through provides an opportunity for us to be better after than we were before.
It was another great week full of missionary work! This week we were really focused on finding. As a companionship, we pray a dozen times in a day. Every prayer this week, we asked Heavenly Father to guide us to families who are prepared to receive the gospel- and He did! After A LOT of rejection and walking and sweating and "tao po-ing" (what we do instead of knocking on doors or clapping, a couple of the days, it seemed like everyone we talked to had some sort of excuse or lie for us. There are so many excuses in the language of Tagalog that I LOATHE. Like "Casi may lakad kami ngyon" or "ah, casi pumupunta kami ngyon" or "bukas na lang sister."  That is one thing that I remember Mom saying about her mission... the people lying. I totally understand what she means now. BUT-after all of the lies and rejection, we found 3 new families this week!! It took a lot of searching, and a lot of rejection to get to them, and we still aren't sure if these are the families who have been prepared, but we are excited to keep teaching them and helping them progress. We are continuing to pray and really to SEARCH everywhere. I am continuing to learn what it means to trust in the Lord and to wait upon him.
AND- on our long days of sweating and rejection, Heavenly Father also sent us so many tender mercies. One of them was one day, the day where we literally walked and walked all day- a guy driving by on a motorcycle started chanting "Sis-ters! Sis-ters! Sis-ters!" Hahahaha, so hilarious! He wasn't even a member or anything. And then, later that night, we walked past a big group of boys and they all just broke out into applause. It was simple-but it was a tender mercy and a reminder to me that Heavenly Father is cheering me on! There are ALWAYS tender mercies if we look for them (:
This week, after hearing the sad news about Ben Parke, I immediately was sent to study again the Plan of Salvation. How amazingly blessed are we as members of the church with so many answers! As I read the basic doctrines that we teach almost every day on the Plan of Salvation, I found a whole new personal love for the truths of this restored gospel. We truly do have a GIFT to share.
While the gospel does provide us with so many answers, I was also reminded that not having answers is part of our life here on Earth. We know so much from the gospel, but God still withholds a lot from us so that we can learn to have faith in Him and really trust Him. In Proverbs, it reads that, "Happy is He who trusts in the Lord." We can be happy as we look up because then we know that we don't have to know all that is in front of us, but rather just trust in He that does know all of the answers.
It reminded me of how last week, as missionaries, we were completely in the dark with what was happening with the typhoon! We couldn't see where it was or where it was going or when it would hit. But, we knew that President Ostler, as our mission president knew. He could see the typhoon, and because we trusted him and knew that he loves us, we knew that as long as we stayed in communication with President Ostler, we would receive the information we needed to keep us safe.  
The gospel gives us so many answers, but the biggest answer is the direction that the gospel points us-which is upward. When we look up, we don't need to have all the answers and understand everything. We can simply trust in the Lord. 
I love you all so much! I am loving this Christmas season as a missionary! Despite the fact that there is no snow, no Christmas decorations, no family, and no Christmas food, I have the opportunity to experience Christmas as the Savior himself did, among the poor and humble. It will be a Christmas that I never ever will forget. 
Have a great week!! XOXOXO
Sister Lockwood
ps. We are having our Christmas party on Palawan tomorrow and President and Sister Ostler will be there and they might bring more, but I'm not for sure yet. 
Also- the quote of the week from Sister Teo "We are gonna try this 'budget' thing." Hahaha last pday we were like "we'll just go upstairs and just check it out" because upstairs there is a shopping store above the grocery part where we always shop. Hahaha when we got up to the place with all the clothes she goes "We should not have done this." And we both ended up spending way too much money and time. Hahahah but this week we really are going to try this budget thing! Hahaha I LOVE YOU!
pps. Sister Chua is almost reactivated! And we can't find her baptismal records so she might be being rebaptized soon! Yay!
And Sister Segovia is doing great and so is Sister Joy (: - all LA's
So you can keep them in your prayers!
AND HAVE THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!! I will sing to you at 10:25 pm my time, so 9:25 am your time? 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Life in Paradise!

The skirts we bought last week!  Aren't they so cute?! Sister Teo and I are both former shopaholics
and really bad spenders...oops!

Here is a lovely image of the lizard that I found in my cup yesterday when I went to pour water in it
to drink.  Yikes!  I wish I could just show you a video of Sister Teo and I's reaction!  Hahaha!

Here's a picture of a basketball hoop here.  I thought the boys would like that one!

Hello Family!
So I know that everyone has been super worried about this typhoon Ruby, but it is still sunny and beautiful here in Puerto Princessa! There's a legend here on Palawan that typhoons never hit here, and its always just paradise. I didn't believe them, and we prepared big time for this typhoon, but apparently they were right! It hasn't even rained here at all. I am SO LUCKY to be here! Not only am I living in a missionary bubble, but the bubble of this paradise as well (: But, thank you so much for all of the prayers and concerns! It means so much! There is such power in prayer, and I feel the strength from all of your prayers everyday. 
Other great news, the figurative typhoon that I was feeling last week is gone! My hair is falling out way less, I'm not feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and I am just so happy to be a missionary doing missionary things! Again, I feel peace from all of the prayers coming my way back home. Some days I wonder "how am I doing this?!" And the Spirit reminds me that its not me, but strength beyond my own, and I know that that comes in extra abundance because of your prayers. I am the luckiest to have you!!! 
This week was so much fun. Sister Teo and I are growing in unity as a companionship and just as really great friends. Its so fun to get to be companions with someone who's a good friend! She is such a hard worker, and so dedicated to this work! Other than the language, it really doesn't feel like I'm training her.  
Our huge focus this week was finding. Everyday all week we prayed and searched for people who were ready to receive us. Our prayers were answered!! But sadly, most of the people we found for some reason or another don't actually live in our area, or are leaving the area soon. One of these people that we found was a couple that we ran across who are basically nomads, and travel by boat to all the islands of the Philippines. Despite the fact that we may or may not ever see them again, they were SO prepared!! When we taught the restoration, both brother and sister were in tears and so excited to finally have found what they were looking for! They said that the churches they've found all have leaders and founders that claim to be the Savior, but are corrupt. When we told them that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints wasn't Joseph Smith's church, but is God's gospel that started with Adam, they were so happy! Lessons like that just give me a high and I just leave saying "This! Is why I'm a missionary!!!" (: 
Another tender mercy we are experiencing are prepared less active members! Sister Chua and Sister Segovia especially have been angels to me here over the past couple of weeks. They were both less actives that we visited for the first time a few weeks ago, and both of them are coming back to church!! We have such a special bond with them, and every time we see them they express their thanks and love to us. Sister Chua is even coming to work with us this week. And Sister Segovia told us that when the branch members asked who it was that finally got her to come back to church she said, "It was the 2 beautiful sister missionaries." What a sweet feeling it is! Here in the Philippines, returning a less active is just as amazing as baptizing someone for the first time. Keep the Chua's and Segovia's in your prayers!! Ah, I LOVE them! 
So, now our focus this week will be continuing to find! We fasted yesterday to find a prepared family that lives in our area. Now we just have to have the faith and diligence to find them! This morning in my personal study I read a lot about faith, and one thing that stood out to me was patience.  No matter how long Heavenly Father takes to answer our prayers, faith means to NEVER give up and to always hold on and know that He will eventually answer them. Joseph's Smith's answer in the scriptures in James 1:5, is preceded in James 1:1-4 with PATIENCE. After we let patience have her perfect work, then Heavenly Father will give us a witness of our faith. 
Another scripture I really loved this week was Hebrews 12:1 "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." 
I don't know how long Heavenly Father will take to answer our prayer to find a family, but I know that he WILL. 
I am still just loving life here! I love you all so much! Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers and love. The power and blessings that come from them are literally felt as I receive strength beyond my own. 
Also I got your christmas cards, and we have zone meeting this week and the DL told me I have lots of mail.
I'm pretty sure I'm like known in the mission for getting the most mail hahaha. I HAVE THE GREATEST FAMILY EVERRR
Sister Lockwood

Monday, December 1, 2014

Doubt Not, Fear Not

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Mexican restaurant next door

A very messy desk!

Dear Family,
Its hard to believe that another week has gone by and I arm emailing you again! This week was hard! But I am so grateful for every challenge because it really did point me to my Savior. On Wednesday at choir practice (which I am the chorister for) Sister Hiatt came up to me and said "Oh Sister Lockwood, you don't look so good. Are you doing okay? Are you stressed?" Haha, apparently how I felt on the inside was showing on the outside too. This week it just felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders! Training a foreigner is difficult. Sometimes, neither of us can understand what people are saying! Because she's new I have to teach most of the lessons, and it can be exhausting! It also turns out that I still have bad spending surprise there. So I was worried about money, and different expenses that came up in the apartment. We also are doing what's called "Becoming a Master Teacher" and the Sister Training Leaders surprised us and randomly showed up at our apartment to pass us off for ALL of the lessons.  We also had to plan for a fireside for the branch this week, and so many things just kept piling up! Friday afternoon I just felt like I had so many responsibilities and no way of accomplishing it all! I was stressed about our lack of progressing investigators, and I just felt overwhelmed. That afternoon, there was a bagyo, and Sister Teo and I listened to the talk "Missionary Work and the Atonement" by Elder Holland, and it just hit me..."you are not alone." The next morning in personal study I read the talk again by David Bednar "Bear up their Burdens with Ease". It was then that I realized, "Why am I trying to do this alone??" It was such a humbling experience for me to change my mentality and remember that my Savior is waiting for me to cast my burdens on Him. I was comforted and relieved to remember that Santa Monica is HIS area, not mine. These are HIS investigators and less actives, and as long as I am doing my best, He will take care of the rest. Friday and Saturday, I really felt the spirit comfort me and let me know that Jesus Christ is going to help me do this. He knows I can't speak this language perfectly, but He called me to be here and knows exactly what I'm going through. I was strengthened and was able to replace my fear with faith and confidence!
Then, on Sunday, we had 4 less active members come to church! I played the piano in sacrament meeting, so I had a clear view of every person that came in late (hehe) and my heart was so filled with joy! No matter what the ups and downs of the week, Sunday morning when someone comes to church it makes it all so worth it! All week we had really been focusing on our less active members, and it felt SO good to FINALLY have them at church!!!
Also, Sister Teo is amazing. She is such a strength to me and I am learning so much from her faith. She is obedient and hard working and wonderful! It was a goal of mine in the MTC to make every companion my best friend, and with her it has been so easy! I love knowing that Heavenly Father put us together. We have so much faith for this upcoming week and are excited to be lead by the spirit together to new investigators who are ready to progress. That is really going to be our focus this week! New investigators, and specifically families!! We have 2 college campuses in our areas, and so many people we talk to are students, but most of them have class on Sundays! So this week we are really praying hard for families. 
On Thanksgiving this week we ate at the Mexican restaurant next door! It was fun! Definitely not the serving sizes I'm used to on Thanksgiving (;, but it was really great! 
D&C 6:34-37 was my favorite scripture this week and came as a clear answer to prayer. It says "Fear not, little flock; do good. let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet, be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen."
I KNOW that the Savior is always near every one of us! We don't have do go through this life alone. I am so thankful for Him and this amazing opportunity I have to learn how to rely on him.  He really does make our burdens light!!
I love you SO SO MUCH!!!
Sister Lockwood