Monday, November 30, 2015

SO Thankful!

Visiting a family with Sister Mata and Sister TuaTonga 

With Sister Mata and Sister TuaTonga

Dear Family,

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!!
Sister Lockwood
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

A special invitation for you...

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!  

Families are Forever

 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!

Dear Family,

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

The Field is White!

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 (: 

My favorite kids in the Philippines!

We ran into Sister Teo at subway this week! She and Sister Veras and Sister Vaka are seriously my mission best friends (:

Dear Family, 
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!
Sister Lockwood

Monday, November 9, 2015

Another Week!

 This is a picture of the name tag I wear everyday

 Putting the star on top of the mission president's Christmas tree because she is the tallest.  By American standards, they are about a month early putting up the tree but by the Philippines standards, they are about a month late!

 Fun with companion, Sister Veras

I will be home for Christmas!

Dear Family,
This week was good! Sister Veras and I really love this area in Las Pinas. We are working a lot in all of the stages of the mission vision. We are working really hard to find, and we have lots of new investigators taking their first steps towards baptism. We have recent converts and less actives that are working towards full activity, and also recent converts who are preparing to go to the temple next week!! The Amacio's family sealing is set for the 18th! Sister Veras and I are so excited that we will be able to attend. It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to be a missionary in an area that is progressing in the different phases of the mission vision!
One miracle we saw this week was with Apple! We have been committing her to work on her MyFamily booklet, and she attended a family history class at church a couple weeks ago that helped her get started. This week we went to her home to help her find the final information she needed and print the names of her parents. She told us that before we came she had a dream about her mom and her dad and her whole family together. She told us that she had never had a dream like that before, and that it was a testimony to her that her parents were waiting for this important work to be done. We are so excited for her to take their names to the temple in the coming weeks for baptism!
Well I don't have too much time this week! I hope you have a great week!
Love you!
Sister Lockwood

Monday, November 2, 2015

We are not Alone in the Work

Cute kids that we gave candy to on Halloween

Camille and Liezel doing their family history

The Bufete Family 

Sunset at our apartment last night 

The one next to me is Weng

Dear Family,

I love being a missionary! This week was soo good for Sister Veras and I! We worked a lot with our recent converts. We did some family history, visiting teaching and lots of reteaching. The recent converts in our area are doing great and we are just having so much fun working with them.
Lately, Sister Veras and I have been praying and fasting to find new, prepared investigators. The longer I have been a missionary, the more I have come to realize that every investigator that progresses, and especially every investigator that progresses to baptism is a gift from the Lord. As missionaries, we teach so many people every day, and we talk to even more. We can work and work and teach and teach, but unless we are teaching those who have been prepared by the Lord, nothing really happens. 
Well this week, the Lord led us to those who are prepared! We had a family home evening planned at the Santos home with 3 of our investigators. When we arrived, Sister Santos had invited her neighbor, Weng, to join too. We taught and testified about the Book of Mormon and mostly focused on our 3 investigators. But when it was Weng's turn to share or ask questions, she bore her testimony that she knew the Book of Mormon was true! She told us that she had been taught by the Elders years back, but had never been baptized. She agreed to have us back to teach her again, and she came to church yesterday! We cannot wait to see where the coming weeks take her!
Another person that the Lord prepared for us this week is Tatay Virgillo. He is the father of 6 and is the only member of his family that is not a member of the church. The missionaries have tried again and again to teach him, but it has never really been his time. He has always left when they tried to teach, and has yet to attend church with his family. However, this week things changed! His 2 daughters had come back home from the province, and we visited them a few times. We taught about eternal families, and committed them all to come to church. You should have seen Sister Veras and my reaction when all 7 of them walked into church together!! We are SO happy for the Bufete family, and cannot wait for them to continue to experience the happiness that comes from the gospel.
I know with all my heart, and this is the Lord's work. He prepares people, and He touches their hearts to help them accept the gospel. Even though I have worked  hard over the past 16 months, I really have just been the instrument. I feel that I have done so little, and the Lord really has done it all. 
I feel like Ammon in the Book of Mormon in Alma 26 when he said, "11. I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.

 12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

I don't have too many more days left in the Philippines, but I am so thankful for every person that I have had the opportunity to teach and love. It really has all been the Lord. 
I love what President Eyring said in the Priesthood session of conference, "When you do your part, the Lord adds His power to your efforts. He has called you and me into His service knowing our capacities and the help we will need. He will bless our efforts beyond our fondest expectations as we give our all in His service."

I love you! I hope you all have a great week!!


Sister Lockwood

ps. Guess what! I got your package! Yay! And your letter, and also a letter from Kathryn, and Grandpa (: Thank you!! You are the best!!  Ahh.. I love you and I am getting so excited to come home!! Luckily we have the best area ever and things are really great, which is keeping me focused.