Merry Christmas! 12/22/14

today we had a zone christmas activity! we had a gift exchange and lechon baboy (pig roasted on a spit) the elders went at 6am this morning to watch the guy kill the pig that they picked out on saturday, and then put it on the spit! we all met at the church at 10 to begin the activity and they came and delivered the baboy by 11! pretty cool, right? it was really yummy and we have TONS left over! i’ll send a pic!

Wow! its Christmas! i can’t believe it! it so doesn’t feel like christmas here. its humid and rainy and just not christmasy. which is good because then it makes me not miss home/the holidays! although it does sound incredible to be wrapped up in a blanket drinking hot chocolate and watching tv. i am so excited for winter haha.

this week went by in a blur! at this rate, my mission will be over in the blink of an eye!
  • monday night we went on splits with the sisters from st. bernard because we all were traveling from sogod the next day! sister mortensen (from lehi!) and i taught a less active fam and an investigator! it was kinda scary because she has only been here 1 transfer longer than i have and we’re not great at the language. I expressed this worry to her and she said, “well, we’ll just rely on the spirit.” i thought to myself, “oh. duh. i know that! why am i worried!” its good to have reminders of things we know, but forget! i led the lessons, which was crazy. and it went GREAT! it was so cool to see the spirit working through us. it was a really really cool experience that i have a hard time describing.
  • on tuesday we had mission tour! it was five of the zones that gathered together in ormoc! so 1/2 of the mission. we woke up at 2:30am to be ready to leave sogod at 3:55, but thanks to filipino time we didn’t leave until 4:45ish haha. our zone leader expected this timing mishap however, and we arrived perfectly on time! it was so fun because the second i walked in the door at the ormoc chapel i was basically attacked by sister malu from my mtc batch! i love her dearly! it was so sad though the whole day we only could talk for about 10 min because our companions were both pulling us away to other things. but i’m so grateful i got to see her nonetheless!
  • mission tour was really fun. the maurers are just THE BEST. seriously, i couldn’t ask for better mission parents. that’s really what they are. when we got there we all shook their hands and president maurer really quickly asked if i was good with my companion! i was happy i could say yes, and even happier that he remembered and followed up with me. of all the zillion companionships in mission he remembered the needs of mine. it was one of those moments where i had to tell myself to dry up and to stop tearing up hahah. missions make you so grateful for the little tiny things! like sister maurer sending us home with a ziploc bag of cookies she made for each of us for christmas. my heart was bursting haha.
  • mission tour lasted until about 4 in the afternoon and then we traveled for 2 hours, got pizza (sidenote: filipino pizza is SO not the same as american pizza), and went home! it was a tiring but fun day.
  • the rest of the week was pretty normal. now that our companionship issues are resolved the work is going MUCH better. not that it wasn’t going well before, it just better now. i’ve figured out how to keep my companion happy. by telling her certain things, asking her certain things, etc. if she is happy, then our companionship is happy. she is a very unique person i can’t really describe her well in writing. but satan works HARD on this companionship. so i working just as hard keeping it going well. anyways. the work is going really well! my language still has SO MUCH room for improvement. there’s still so much i can’t say/understand. but everyday it gets better. i am blessed with the gift of tongues EVERY SINGLE DAY. i am so blessed.
  • here is a story of how even the most paranoid person (ME!) can become less paranoid..for example: forgetting to change the water filter. my ultra-paranoia self has really calmed it down the last few weeks and so i just can’t believe that i forgot to change our water filter! my stomach/intestines like hurt for a day and since we hadn’t eaten at members i figured i just had a little bug. and then the spirit was like BAM and reminded me about the water filter! so we changed it and my stomach was immediately better. so yeah!!!! i’m becoming less up tight at the expense of my health! haha jk i’m still paranoid, just not ultra, mega paranoid like before.
  • i am so excited to skype with you all! i sent more info in the other emails to you. thanks lauren for creating a new account for me! oh, i only have 40 min to skype so lets make the most of it! i am really lucky to skype. since christmas day is such a good time for teaching/finding only those missionaries who don’t have to travel far to an internet cafe (me!) get to skype. i feel so blessed because i’ve been counting on this christmas skype ever since i got to the field. i’m so blessed. i seriously see so many tender mercies each day. Heavenly Father is SO aware of me in my situation. that is one of the biggest things i’ve learned on my mission so far. He is so in the details of each every one of our lives
  • i am so grateful for this christmas season and blessing it is to represent Jesus Christ at this time of year especially. it is an honor to wear the badge i wear everyday with His name on it, next to mine. I am so grateful to be a missionary and to share the gospel with the people of Sogod! this gospel is so true!
i love you all! have a wonderful christmas!!!!! it breaks my heart that i am not home with you all, it really BREAKS MY HEART! and its sad that i’ll miss another christmas as well. but i am on the Lord’s errand! i’ve got things to do here 🙂 and i’m so grateful to be here!!!! i love you all. thank you for your support and prayers. i can feel your prayers!
love,
sis brereton
pics: #1 me and my halo-halo. a filipino dessert that has beans, corn, jelly stuff, more jelly stuff, and coconut milk, random fruits, etc. its so weirdly good. i get it everytime we go out to lunch!
#2 old typhoon photo! me and my american sisters eating american nutella during the storm! i only share it with those who truly appreciate its americaness
#3 mission tour! i was reunited with my beloved sis malu!!!!!
#4 lechon baboy! its a roasted pig! that’s what we had at our zone activity today!!!!
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Advance Merry Christmas!

that is what people keep telling us this week and i think its hilarious.

i don’t have loads of time to email today! we have a music practice in a bit. there are 6 of us singing o holy night at mission tour tomorrow in ormoc! its just a day long but i will get to see my beloved sis malu! and others from my batch. i’m so excited! and sorry that i’m not sending pics from my cam. we’re at a different internet cafe today and i don’t trust this comp to put my memory card in it!

here are the highlights of the week!

  • got the second package mom i love you. thanks! i haven’t opened it yet (self control unlike last time). i’ll wait til christmas on this one haha
  • the weather has been so good here. and it cools off at night. its awesome.
  • thank you for your prayers about me and my companion! things are GOOD now! and i feel so blessed. i talked to my zone leader about it and he validated me completely, said that he has noticed the same things. he told us to have companionship inventory so i initiated it and it turned out to be a total breakdown from her, not really inventory. she had a lot of bottled up emotions from her whole life really. telling me that she just has never had someone who will listen to her, never has told her mom she loves her, etc. just like she’s never vented in her whole life. she cried and let it all out. i listened and ever since then she has been HAPPY which means that i’m happy! and our companionship can work well together! i made her promise that she’d vent to me about things and so far she is and everything is GOOD! so thank you for your prayers concerning that because i know that’s why everything is better now.
  • my camera. i dropped it. its fine, but now everytime i take a pic there is a black dot that’s in the lens that shows up in EVERY pic. its so annoying. i don’t want to buy a new camera because that seems dumb, but i also don’t want to have a black dot in every pic for the rest of my mission.
  • the young women have taken to calling me “Sister Barbie” i think its hilarious because i don’t look like a barbie! i am white and tall…that’s all i’ve got in common with barbie! hahhahaha
  • we got screens on all the windows in our apt! so no more mosquitoes sneaking in to feast on me haha
  • i have been eating mandarin oranges. real mandarin oranges.
  • we have 2 progressing investigators and its really exciting! lots of investigators that don’t keep commitments so i’m grateful to have these 2! they are both so good and so prepared. its cool to see the hand of the Lord in their lives and to be able to explain it to them!
  • our personal study on saturday was serenaded by a screaming pig that suddenly just stopped screaming…i’m gonna let you guess what happened to that pig…
  • we watched the first pres christmas devo last night at the church it was so good! it was so happy to watch, yet so sad because i’m so sad not to be home for christmas! and next christmas too! but its ok. i just can’t be there right now. i’ve got to be here in the philippines! i know that there are people here waiting for me to find. and that’s what gets me through those really hard days that make me want to quit, give up and go home. this sounds all saturday warrior cheesy, but I KNOW there are people that i promised i would find. i don’t know if they are in this area, or the next, or the next but i promised them. and i can’t break that promise. yeah that sounds cheesy but i don’t care because its true hahah
  • and on a final note. thanks for always updating the blog! you know why i wanted it in the beginning: because mission blogs were so vital in my physical, mental, emotion mission preparation and i want to be able to help someone who is preparing as well! and i know i’ll look back on things i’ve written in these emails and think how stupid i sound, or how dumb i am, but as long as that blog helps others i will be happy! and its just like in Mormon 9:3 where he says that he just hopes that he hopes the record will help others to be smarter that “ye may be more wise than we have been”. that’s what i hope for this blog!!!!
  • i have to email my wonderful mission pres now, and then go to the song practice.

love you all! thanks for you specific prayers for my needs. i pray for each of you individually, multiple times a day!

love,

sis brereton

If ye are prepared ye shall not fear: Typhoon Ruby 12/9/14

that statement came to mean a lot to me this week! i will do my best to explain what happened but honestly its such a blur the past few days! if nothing else makes sense in my email just know that i am TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FINE! seriously. everything is soooo good in Sogod!

  • we were having a regular week! i honestly don’t remember what we did on monday or tuesday! but on wednesday we were doing our weekly service project with the zone leaders, cleaning the church. that’s when i first heard about the storm. the mission office had been communicating with the zone leaders about things, just as a warning. so wednesday we proceeded as usual with our day. This week was supposed to be transfer week though. so as a mission rule, the day before transfers, we deep clean our apt. we woke up that day and the zone leaders had a conference call, telling us who would be transferred…and telling us to please make a “kit” of food, clothes, etc that would last a week because we most likely would have to evacuate.
  • so i frantically did laba because i was running low on garments and then we ran to the store. i bought the biggest backpack i could find! and then we went down the aisles throwing stuff into our cart! just like the movies! i felt like i was in the movies because it was a serious adrenaline rush. but here’s what’s crazy. the locals weren’t freaking out at all. they just proceeded with life as usual because they don’t believe the news reports. and they think “god will protect us” i seriously heard some people saying that. which is crazy to think after yolanda! so we looked like the crazy missionaries running around, ransacking the store! it was hard to find stuff to buy because filipino foods are very different than american ones. i know exactly the type of things i’d get if i was in america, but since those things aren’t here i ended up buying a lot of tuna fish, and then cookies/cracker type things because there wasn’t much else to get.
  • the huge blessing is this: i had a bunch of american food from the package/that i had before that i’ve been hoarding. so i knew i’d be fine because i also had a few clif bars, beef jerky, oreos, and a big jar of peanut butter. so its kinda incredible that that package arrived when it did, and that i had those foods too!
  • we kept getting calls from the ZLs to hurry. so that made things tense! sisters from another area traveled to our area to buy stuff to prepare and didn’t have time to go back to their area after all of the hustle and bustle. so they’ve been wearing all my garments and clothes this week. thank goodness we are the same size! i love my american sisters
  • thursday we just kept waiting, waiting for word that we needed to evacuate. but the storm was so unpredictable that no one knew what we should do! so we slept at our apt thursday night. meanwhile, it was so nice out. like the best weather that i’ve experienced in the philippines. so that gives new meaning to the calm before the storm!
  • friday…i’m trying to remember. lets see. we lived life like normal. by this point we received word that we wouldn’t be evacuating, and that we would just be staying in the Sogod chapel (which is made for storms like these). so during the day we went on splits out in our areas to warn people about the storm and tell them to evacuate to the church. but NO ONE would listen to us. they are all too proud and say that their homes are fine even though they are made of bamboo and sticks and would be crushed in an instant. talk about unbelief. friday night we moved all our stuff over to the church! and the elders were awesome! they snagged the missionaries the best room. the elders stayed in the district president’s office and the sisters were in the fam history center. we took our mattresses over, food, clothes, entertainment, etc. we were ready to be there for a week!
  • there were some people who were smart and evacuated to the church. they set up camp and the missionaries kind of just ran the show. keeping people in line and keeping them from doing weird stuff. it was a great opporunity for me, language wise. because there were TONS of kids and so i just talked to them. and they know i can’t speak well so there was no pressure to me! it was way good practice for me. during all this time it still wasn’t stormy! we did the same thing on saturday. it was pretty boring really. but members made us adobo and brought to the church for us for dinner so that was awesome because we’d just been eating our snacks from our backpacks all day. so it didn’t feel like we were roughing it at all!
  • friday night we even had air con because there’s a small unit in the fam history center! it was awesome! we were laughing because we were living better than we normally do, even though we were technically evacuated hahah. saturday night was when the storm hit us though. it wasn’t bad at all. just windy and some rain. like really windy, but not terrible. the power went out that night, but the church has a generator! so that was sweet! and we always had cell service.
  • by sunday morning it was basically all over and people went home. we had only sacrament that day, and then the missionaries just hung about because the generator went out and so did the water. so we just hung out all day. we played cards and just chilled. it was weird to do as a missionary, but fun!
  • monday the power was still out. and we just hung about all day. we weren’t allowed to go out and work. but the power came back on last night! and all is well now! we’re back at our undamaged apt. the other sisters will probs be with us for a few more days since their area is without power still in their area. which is great for me because i LOVE THEM. we talk about america sometimes and they just understand me in ways that my companion just doesn’t haha.
i’m running out of time. there’s so much more to the story but it will have to wait! the bottomline is that we will not be reassigned, i can continue to work in this area that i love, and things are good! we were so prepared for this storm. the other missionaries started to call me “soccer mom” because i literally had everything that anyone needed. haha funny. but please pray for the other parts of the mission! they were much more affected. we were so lucky…blessed.
i’m sending some pics now. i’ll attach the storm ones if i still have time in a min!
love you all! thanks for your prayers.
love you alllllllll!!!!!!!
pics:
1: the dreaded task known as laba. are my clothes really getting clean??? let’s hope!
2: happiness
3: the baptism of tay cosme! look how tall and white i am hahah

4: happy late thanksgiving!!
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Living on a prayer. And tylenol/advil

hello all! don’t let the subject line fool you… i’m totally fine. i just wrote it out and realized that it sounds like i’m in the hospital. i’m not. i’m fine. i was sick this week though….this week was definitely the hardest week i’ve had here. but it’s all good in the neighborhood.

  • first i’ll get to the nitty gritty. i started to feel pretty crappy (really there’s no other way to say it!). we were in district meeting and it hit me like a bus: achy body, huge headache, bleh. after district meeting i laid down for an hour, took ibuprofen, and we worked. but i still didn’t feel great. i was like that for the rest of the week. and my throat was hurting too. I thought, oh great another virus. by this point i was alternating between tylenol and advil because i felt FINE while on it, but the second it wore off i was tired, lethargic, achy. meanwhile my throat hurt. I woke up in the night friday night because my throat hurt so bad. so saturday morning i did the flashlight text and BANG BOOM BAM white dots at the back of my throat! i texted sister maurer, and she told me non-penicillin related antibiotics to get, we got them for me and BOOM i’m so much better now. my throat almost doesn’t hurt anymore, and i will finish the antibiotic! i was actually super scared/mad when i realized it was strep. mad at myself for not catching it earlier. it was weird tho because the body aches preceded the sore throat so i just suspected it was viral and never looked at my throat. i was scared that it had already spread to my kidneys or something since i waited so long to get antibiotics. BUT ALL GOOD NOW!!!! happy and healthy!!!
  • second. this week i realized that i don’t like rainy season. its kinda scary. this week a storm came in. it just rained and rained and rained. when we woke up in the morning it felt like it was night still because it was so dark. but we went out to work anyway because we’re not gonna let a little rain stop us! we were teaching at a members home, when suddenly the power went out! so when there is a burn out we’re supposed to go home since its not super safe. so we went home in the dark. it was kinda eerie. but really it was fine. when we got home the water was working, but 10 minutes later it shut off. SO ANNOYING. without power and water. lucky the power came on an hour later. water didn’t come on until the next day though. but all is well. it wasn’t like a bad storm or anything. just kinda annoying!
  • i opened the package. HOLLA. Thank you mom i just love you so much! i told my companion as i was trying to get through the tape to prepare herself for some waterworks because i was bound to cry. slowly, slowly the tears slipped out. especially when i saw the jar of nutella. oh my goodness. and then when i saw the chocolate covered cinammon bears, and when i saw that they weren’t even melted, I lost it. totally lost it. thank you so much! i try to ration the nutella and only eat it on days that my companion hurts my feelings. so…everyday haha
  • confession session: i’ve been buying clothes. obviously i am too huge for the clothes in stores, but there are these market things called uki-uki where its used clothes that have been shipped for the u.s. that you sort through and then buy for crazy cheap. my companion is a master at finding gems. so last pday we went there. i got 4 skirts, 1 dress, and 100000 mosquito bites, all for less than 7 american dollars!!!! will i ever be able to buy from j.crew again after getting used to these prices? probs not. (and from now on i will put on extra bug spray before going there!)
  • HAPPY THANKSGIVING! i have a pic to send but its not letting me send pics 😦 next week. the good news is that i saw wild turkeys the day before thanksgiving! cool, right? actually they were so ugly. so ugly. but due to the time change, i was mid downward facing dog (yoga) during exercise on the morning of nov 28th when i realized that all the people i’ve ever loved are chowing down on all of my favorite foods, and that lindsie was in the air on her way HOME! crazy to think. but don’t worry, i’m not sad! i’m happy to be here! and the fact that its SO hot yet its december makes it not seem like the holiday season AT ALL.
  • we had a baptism on sunday!!!!!!!! it was supposed to be saturday but the mission is changing some procedural baptism things so it was on sunday! it was the baptism of tay cosme, a cute 67 y.o. who the sisters have been working with since april!!!! he is so cute. i’ll try to send a pic!
  • we have progressing investigators. its really rewarding. so many investigators don’t keep their commitments so its good to have some that do!!!!!
  • we ran out of gas this week. meaning that we couldn’t cook on saturday night or sunday! the stove we have is powered by a propane tank and we ran out! the zone leaders went to fill it up for us this morning though so we are back in business!!!!! meanwhile, we got inventive with our rice cooker 🙂
  • as always, please continue to pray for me! i know you do. but still pray that i don’t get dengue, that i maintain my health, my companionship, and the LANGUAGE! i pray everyday for the gift of tongues AND interpretation. the language is SO much harder than i thought it would be. ironically, it was the one thing that i wasn’t worried about before my mission….i was worried about everything else. but now its my biggest trial! if i could just speak well/understand half the time i could be doing so much good! its such a “simple” language…meaning that there is only one way to say most things. but that makes it harder because i have to really narrow down my thoughts and make them so simple to be able to translate them. so i have to stop thinking in complex sentences like i usually do. its hard because i feel like i can’t really be myself completely because i can’t express myself like i normally would. its something that i will get used to thought! it just takes patience!
  • i love you all and i’m so grateful for your support. i just finished my first 6 weeks! the time is going by pretty fast. i love this gospel!!!!!! i know its true!!!
love you all! i’m out of time 🙂
love,
sister brereton