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!!