Monday, April 13, 2009

March 29th, 2009

Well hello again. Sounds like everyone had a good week and Garyn is super lucky like Savanna and won't spend college and all of high school with braces :) haha. We were busy this last week with zone conference. Elder Winn informed me that Savanna has not written me again, he checks my mail :) haha...not really on purpose but they are the mail sorters. Did Maddie and Savanna write Elder cheney and Elder winn letters? I think they are both still waiting for letters so i still think you should :) haha.

Conference was really good. We have a lot of people going home, including two of our couples and three of our assistants, so it was kind of emotional. Time is going ridiculously fast for me. I was really shocked to realize it was March and now it's over! Wow, i can't believe it seriously. They worked the board yesterday so I will know next Monday if i am transferred or not. It's very up in the air. PResident did ask me at interviews about how long i've been here and how my companion is doing with the area and at conference he told my companion to learn the area well.
It is VERY summer here again - wow. I think I forgot after all the months of fairly nice weather just how hot it gets here and just how much I am capable of sweating.

On Sunday we were happy to have some of our hopeful baptisms attend church for the first time. We committed one to baptism but he isn't yet sure, but he showed up to church so that is progress, he even knew many of the people at church. We taught him lesson three which is the gospel of Jesus Christ and I hadn't specifically planned to commit him to baptism yet but the spirit was really strong as we taught so we listened. He is still going to pray about it but we are hopeful.

A note of culture -- or something...all of the children are very skilled in creating their own kites and they fly them all day long. At almost any time you can look high up into the sky and there is a kite flying high...and i am amazed at how high they get! They have ones shaped like bees or bats etc. and the very little children make their own very small ones. I'm not sure what they make them out of, it's very thin plastic like paper and they use bamboo sticks which they carve down to be smaller. it's kind of scary tos ee a seven year old carving down a stick using a curved knife as long as he is :) haha. THey have another game they play here where they use one of their fip-flops as a base and one as a "ball" of sorts and they throw it to each other, kick it and run. They catch spiders and hav ethemf ight here like in my last area but they don't seem to have the bettles here that they would attatch to string like in my first area.

Carin sent me a letter. She said she talked with you on the phone. I guess the house you rented is not the one I was imagining. I don't know much about theo ther house but it's closer to the apartments and is the only girls house now in my old ward. Carin willb e moving, however, I don't know if by choice or if she just didn't sign up for an apartment on time :) She's planning to live close anyway. Does Savanna plan to go find work their early, start school, what?

We are teaching another family who has heard some "bad things" about the church, things not even my companion knew. I might have talked about this already. My companion is also new to the church and until here she didn't know anything about Jospeh smith having multiple wives or much about polygamy besides Brigham Young. I personally do not either -- at least not any details. WEll, somehow our investigators heard something about this and they were concerned. Their neighbors also told them that we are a cult.

I didn't feel overly concerned about answering these questions, but we prayed a lot and i did some studying on the matter myself. Once there we simply asked them about their prayers and reading from the Book of Mormon. We explain that our church is christian and we also askedt hem what their understanding of a cult is -- and if they feel what we have taught them fits there. They basically answered their own questions ont hat matter. As for the many wives. I went witht he Abraham approach and we also discussed God having him sacrifice his son which goes against hte laws of God but if it is commanded of God it is from him and we must follow until told to stop. They also understood very well how Abraham had his two sons from different wives which populated the earth. This discussion came more about fromtheir own questions and reasoning -- I didn't go into it to much. Then our investigator said "so it's kind of like with nephi also how he was told to kill someone..." i knew she had been reading but she hadn't told us much about her reading yet, she picked up on that all on her own and we were able to relate the Book of Mormon, bible, and current church all together. In thee nd they had no problemswith our explanation of polygamy in the early church, less than I even expected and after our visit was another of those times where my companion informed me my Tagalog was very clear -- God helps us as we do ourp art to continue to study and pray and the truth is very evident to the open mind and heart.

I'm ready to close now, so i'll talk to you next week and you shall know if i am leaving the island or not! hmmmm?

Sister Landrum

March 22nd, 2009

All right, well I've thought about going home some -- and it's funny that you mention some of the things you do because I began to feel that way a little bit (concerning the complacency of people) before I left and feel that way very much here even with some missionaries and do wonder what life will be like when I return...but at least I have learned a LOT of patience compared to how I was before so I guess that will be a perk in overcoming discouragements.

I'm not perfect by any means but I really do have high standards for myself and probably higher ones for whoever I might marry...if I marry someone. (p.s. happy 23rd right? yes 23 because I am 22...!!!)

Having companions has helped me to learn how to work with different levels of commitment and obedience and I am thankful for that. However, it's amazing how easy it is to decide you can lower your standards in very "jusitfiable" little ways so that other people willl get along with you or like you better, so that there will be peace and you think "well that's okay because it's important also to have others happy with you and etc. etc." but in the end we should always put God first and he does not lower his standards for us depending on situations, we have to find a way to live up to his requirement and do so in a way that hopefully helps others, that is not prideful, of course in a very humble and patient and full of love way and yet all you do is not good enough for everyone and everyone will be always be pleased with you -- but God's standards are still more important, right? It's amazingly easy to question that, to wonder what He really wants of us in each wonder what strict obedience and exact performance means and "become perfect even as I..."

I'm trying to live the standards I truly want in my life and making reasonable goals that I know God wants for me and that I should seek after but I wonder if that will cause me a problem when it comes to sharing standards daily with someone for eternity? I'm good at going it alone -- but learning to do it while living with others is a unique challenge. I enjoyed reading all of Jesus the Christ which opened my mind to many things I should do and can do and needed to change.
I have lived with many different people and dealt with many different situations and have messed up and have also done what I think is the best and felt I did well in it.

I hope that in the end someone, especially those I don't expect and that I've maybe only met once or talked to a couple of times, will find themselves blessed by the gospel one day and in some way I will have had a part in it and that's what my mission was in part all about, and the other part in preparing me to follow all that God will have me do as my life unfolds and being ready to serve in each calling I am given.

Well, we're running out of time so I'll leave you there. Don't worry about me, we are safe and for the most part always healthy and I am happy in my trials and my triumphs because I know that God has a perfect plan for me and all we experience is for us to eventually become what we should, even the times when we fall or forget are meant to help us stand up and remember.

Love, Sister Landrum

Email March 15th, 2009

Transfer day we ate at Pizza Hut! It's too expensive here for our budget or the money of any of my companions and we had a long and exhausting first day together with traveling back and forth and standing in the heat and smoke waiting for a bus and then staying over night at the sisters house in San Pablo instead of going back to the island and then travelled more the next day. So, amidst all our travel we made it to a big city where they have a mall and we ate pizza hut and I paid for it with the card...we were full and happy and I've never really liked pizza hut pizza that much but I ate noodles and it wasn't all that bad :) Anything is amazing compared to the food we manage to find ourselves and cook in Pola, however. I don't remember if I told you about the crab I was gross and I never want to eat crab again -- actually it was kind of tasteless but I think my big thing is smell and texture...if either are bad I don't want to swallow :) I may have already told you that, however...besides that the food is just vegetables and rice and sometimes spaghetti with hot-dogs. I eat oatmeal most mornings with powder milk and bananas if I can find some to buy.

As for persecution -- I probably haven't really mentioned persecution because we're not supposed to talk about "problems" in letters or emails so much and so I try to avoid it as much as possible. As for persecution, something I find very interesting is that many people know our church as the "rich" church and members seem to be persecuted and others don't want to join because they say it's for rich people and all the people are rich in our church. Of the three of our new members there is a bit of a story for each. One of them has her family tell her that she reads too much from the Book of Mormon and that she shouldn't join if she's not going to change (whenever she does anything that's not "perfect") because if she's a part of a church that means she's perfect now, right? It's kind of the same story with our other new member who has her family telling her there is no such thing as God and she can go to church and read all she wants but she's still not changing either and that it depends on our own hard work whether we will be happy and rich or not, not on God. They also told her that if she goes around sharing with other people these things people will think she's crazy and make fun of her. Maybe that is true because with our other member who often does work with us he has people tell out to him "Brother "name " " or "pastor..."name"" and laugh at their good "joke." These are only small trials, things they must overcome and for a season they feel alone but we are helping to to reach out to God through it so they can find peace and joy and companionship through God and his spirit and the power of Christ in our lives.

We have zone interviews tomorrow and so I will get mail...I know I have a letter from Savanna waiting (and hopefully they brought it) but who knows what else. I am slightly interested about mom's full lenghth version of the prom story she promised in a letter because it sounds more interesting than just "Garyn got dressed up and went to prom" but who knows. It's kinda of funny that my two younger sisters pretty much look like they are older than me -- I think most people would guess that at this point -- and I hear Olivia is even as tall or maybe taller than me. Sa Bagay she's about twelve now right and that's when i stopped getting taller -- i was very tall back then and everyone else kept growing! I'm tall here though -- except our new American Elder is 6'6 or something -- he's so tall. I think it might not have shocked if me if I'd seen him in America but now i'm used to short people and he is just ridiculously tall!

We have a good district. We all seem to be working hard and have a desire to do well and be obedient -- I don't know how long I'll be here at this point, maybe I'll get an idea tomorrow at interviews. Each of my areas have been so different, full of different people, different culture and food and even their language slightly different and different challenges in the wards and branches that I don't know what to expect if I go somewhere else.

I have been teaching the doctrine and covenants class to the youth or young single adults or combined or whoever needs a sunday school class etc. This week I ended up with four young-men ranging from 13-17 and we discussed section 20 about their duties, they recited the sacrament prayers for me in Tagalog and tried in English -- they have a desire to serve mission at this point. We talked about the future of the church in their country and in their city and how important their decisions are now. I noticed that the line "invite others to come unto Christ" is there in section twenty as it describes the duties of our young priesthood leaders, that is the opening line of "my purpose" in preach my gospel for all missionareis, taken right from the duties of thep preiesthood. I told them about why even as a female it is a blessing for me to serve and talked about how it is a part of their duty and we talked about what their preisthood means to them. I think I feel a lot more prepared after all my interesting experiences in life to have sons, if i even do. Before camps, and EFY and serving a mission I didn't have a lot of experience with young teenage boys :)

It has been interesting having a native companion again. She notices things that I don't and neither did my companions. She knows when I speak correctly or not and sometimes after our lessons, as we are walking away, she will tell me that she was surprised by my Tagalog, that I spoke more clearly and straight and she seems to notice when our investigators react emotionally to what I'm saying in correspondence with when I speak more correctly. Sometimes that spirit really fixes up my speaking but I don't seem to notice as much as she does when I'm right or wrong -- to me it's just trying to talk and trying to say what I'm supposed to.
I was appreciative for the activity we did at district meeting. We had questions we had to answer from the Book of Mormon that are frequently asked by investigators given to us and three minutes to find an answer. These include, "is the law of moses still intact" "I don't need religion to be saved only faith in Christ" "why don't you use the sign of the cross" etc...and I was surprised also at how quickly we all found very good answers and more surprised when my question "I don't need religion to be saved..." was asked to me a couple days later -- I was quite ready. My answer was slightly different to her than it had been at our meeting but the basics were the same.

Well, I'm about done now and need to leave so thanks for the emails and Love from me Sister Landrum.

Email March 8th, 2009

I'm glad that my mail made it to the house -- even if it took a while. I do try to be more diligent in writing letters and in being good about my information in email and letters. As for writing mostly spiritual things in email and "logistics" in letters I'm not sure how I could sort it out. Sometimes the business gets put in emails because it's faster and my emails aren't full of spirituality, but then my hand written letters don't really happen. I'll admit that having to write my letters and do my emails only on Monday and at a speicific time makes it somewhat forced sometimes, I guess I just can't always be in a story telling mood or have that be what's on my mind. I found writing letters so much morep leasing and relaxing before my mission -- this is not complaining I still enjoy writing letters and I have a lot to say but anyway I'll just continue on as I do and I hope it works out for everyone.

We have spent a week working in Pola as a companionship and all is going well. Sister Jagnas is a recent convert. She had been a member for one year and ten months before her mission. Before the missionaries taught her she was a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo Church, a very prominent church here in the Philippines. It is very interesting to hear her insights from the change and her insider perspective. Each companion is so very, very different -- there is simply no comparing them they are just different. She is also 22, a month older than me. She has been on her mission for three transfers, I have four transfers left of my mission. I don't like counting in transfers -- that's a super small number. I saw sister Thompson also at transfers and she informed me that her family is getting "Trunky" for her and even told here that her flight plans had come, she still has two transfers left, however.

I have a few questions about the apartment -- will we have a car and did they ask you if you would like to reserve a parking space because if we do have a car I definitely want a parking space reserved, the sticker is $40.00 or something like that. Also, does the house come with Internet like the apartments or no? Anyway, I guess I can't do much about either at this point so all is well -- and continually strange.

I was doing some stretching the other day and realized that I have lost a LOT of my flexibility in my legs while here on the mission. Probably because I do so much walking so the muscle has been building in some places without the proper stretching to go with it and overall my exercise is limited to none. Well, hopefully my flexibility returns. I guess I may have lost physical flexibilty but I've gained mental and spiritual flexibility and firmness so it's a good trade. It's great how almost all concepts, or all, can be applied in gospel terms. As our body requires us to become strong and firm while equally stretching or else we will be in pain, in mental and spiritual lives must be strengthened and firm but also be open and flexible -- what I mean is that we must stand and not waver in our faith and in our testimony but we must also eventually learn to see and think as God does which is fully open, he sees and understands all and each perspective and there is no limit, and yet as mortals aour thoughts and our vision is so straight and narrow and not open. There is an importance balance in our lives to being "open minded" to matters and yet firm in our standards.

Our district is wonderful, I really like our new district here. Our district leader is training and he goes home the same time I do. His companion is American and so his Tagalog is very "beginner" and I am glad that I am beyond that :) The other two elder's are both new, they re-opened the area and one of them is Sister Jagnas's batch coming into the mission, American, and with only three transfers here is better at the language than almost anyone I know -- he also speaks spanish which is a great help to him. HIs companion is from the middle east, I believe, but his father is Filipino so he looks like everyone from here. We have good uplifiting meetings and I can feel that everyone wants to work hard and help their areas improve and help their companionships -- continue learning the language etc. We have three Americans again in my distrcit and we are all at very different stages of learning, another things that is interesting to see. Sister Jagnas said that in just the week we have been together my accent has improved -- she informed me the other day that I don't sound as American anymore. It is hard when your companions have all been American -- and besides being with her now I still have a terrible accent but people understand me.

At this point I do know the area and the people fairly well -- sometimes it's hard because I'm not sure where else to try finding people becuase I know all the places we have taught before or we were rejected at the doorstep. That's why transfers are good sometimes, get new eyes to try the same old houses again because eventually the people there will be ready.

OH yes, since Savanna is going to live there, what exactly does she plan to do there? Just wondering -- maybe her letter answered it but I still need to wait another week and a half to read it.

As for Amanda's news, I guess they decided against what she originally told me and they are getting married in April (better choice school wise).

Okay, well thanks for all of the letters and support and working hard and going to school and reading your scriptures. I'll write again on Monday.

-Sister Landrum

New area; Darasa

Britney has been trasnfered to a new area. She stayed on the Island of Mindoro for a long time. She is now on the mainland again not far from the mission home. She is now training a new missionary in Darasa which is just north of Lipa. She sounds excited to be there but I am sure she will dearly miss Pola.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Picture Update!

Britney on some table

Britney at an abandoned house

At the "candy" house

They mostly travel in these Jeeps...sometimes people even ride on top.

At a Catholic Shrine
Elders and Sisters stranded on an Island

I think she likes being stranded on this island

Eating with her hands off of a banana leaf

P day at Fantasy Land