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Sister Abish Curtis

November 2012- May 2014

Monday, March 25, 2013

Two Months in the Philippine​s


Kamusta!!!!

I can't believe I've already been here two months. I've almost been here as long as I was in the MTC. Pretty crazy. Time flies by so fast.

 

Lately I've felt like I've kind of hit a wall when it comes to the language. I haven't been progressing very much. I don't know what to do. I decided to take the matter to the Lord. I poured out my heart to Him asking for His help. I explained to Him how hard it is to learn a language. I've never learned a language before, and I still don't feel like I know how. That is when I remembered someone else who was asked by the Lord to do something he didn't know how. Any guesses??? Nephi!!! Our good old Book of Mormon prophet who was told by the Lord that he needed to build a ship. Only problem is Nephi had never built a ship before and he did not know how. But he new the Lord would help him and show him how. I need to be like Nephi and more completely trust and rely on the Lord. I know that God will help me and show me what I need to do. After that I had an inspired study session where I was able to receive revelation on things I can be doing better. I was wonderful.

One of those things I need to do better is to trust in the Lord more by opening my mouth. Before I would just think of 'opening your mouth' in reference to talking to strangers about the gospel. But I'm realizing opening my mouth includes more than that. It means speaking the language as much as I can. In the MTC they taught us that we should 'SYL' (Speak Your Language) as much as possible. I wasn't very good at in the MTC, and since Sis. Calinisan is so good with English I don't do much of it now either. But I'm realizing that is something I need to be doing better. Also just trusting in the Lord and opening my mouth during lessons. Sometimes I just assume I don't know how to say something so I don't even try. But I have been trying to say more things, even when I'm not super confident. It is helping me to become better. There have been times this week when my companion will say "And now Sister Curtis will..... explain what that means/ tell this story/ ect. " In my head I'm thinking 'Are you crazy!' But then I will just do my best, and I'm surprised at how much I am able to say. The Lord promises that when we open our mouths, they will be filled. I have experienced that for myself. I guess it is required that I just first take that leap of faith and they He can bless me. Hopefully will my new found faith and determination I can make more progress in learning Tagalog.

 

School here got out about two weeks ago, so now it's summer vacation. To celebrate graduations people will have little parties and make lots of food. A couple of people have shared their graduation food with us. Most of the time it is yummy pancit (noodle stuff, kind of similar to roman noodles except 87 times better). The desserts are yummy too. Most of them are rice based.

 

Here in the Philippines, Easter is a big deal. They call it Holy Week, and it really is a week long celebration. I'm sure I'll have lots of cool things to tell you about next week. But the preparations have been going on for the last week or so. They have been putting up decorations and all sorts of cool stuff. But it's not decorations of the Easter Bunny. It is all focused on Jesus Christ, and I love it. Something they have started already is the Pabasa (The Reading) in so many places in our areas they have set up a Crucifixion scene and a microphone. For the Pabasa they will read passages from the scriptures. When I say read, I really mean sing. They will sing the scriptures. Sometimes they will sing it to a song I will recognize (Oh Christmas Tree), sometimes to a song I don't recognize but I can still tell its a song. And sometimes they just make it up as they go. It's kinda funny. There is a church that has a Pabasa that is super close to our house. They starting last night and they haven't stopped yet. Yup they sang the scriptures all night long. It was a little hard to fall asleep, and it was also kinda distracting during our studies this morning. This is quite the adventure. From what I hear I will see some pretty crazy things this week. I'm sure I will have lots to tell you about next time.

 

I hope you all have a wonderful and happy Easter. Remember to focus on our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that because of the Atonement we can be cleansed from our sins. And because Jesus was risen from the dead we will all live again.

 

Sister “I love being a missionary!!!!!" Curtis

 

Enjoy the pics:

 

Pic 1: For our Trainers/Trainees meeting, me and my companion bought matching skirts. Also this is my room, a little messy at the moment. That's my bed and desk :)

Pic 2: Even though I don't love how I look in this picture (or the previous one) I'm still sending it so you can see this cute little house that I get to teach in.

 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Kumusta ka?


I mentioned last week that I can email friends now, and not just family. I'm so grateful and excited!! I'm realizing that it is bigger than just my mission. I've heard it has effected a lot of other missions here in the Philippines. I wonder if it will be the new worldwide rule. That would be exciting. There are so many people that I have thought of this week that I want to email. Unfortunately I don't really have anyone's email, so please email me so I can write you back!!!! Abish.Curtis@myldsmail.net Everyone who reads this, please email me, even if its just a short little thing :)

 Well, you know being a missionary is never a normal thing. And being in the Philippines isn't really a normal thing. But when you put them together, it is especially not a normal thing. It's fun, but it's also hard work.
 
The investigator we were hoping would get baptized next week wasn't able to come to Church on Sunday. Nooo!! Since the rule here is they have to go to church 4 times in a row, it will be another month before he can be baptized. Sad day, but I actually think the extra time will do him good and make sure he is getting baptized for the right reasons. So many people here go less active after their baptism. I don't want that to happen to him.

 We had zone conference this last week, with our zone and two others. (There are 11 zones in my mission) It was fun to get together with so many other missionaries. We received training, and spiritual upliftment, and they fed us food. Pretty much the best day ever.

 Another thing: It rained on us pretty hard this week for the first time. So fun!!! Puddles everywhere. I'm realizing that I didn't really bring the right shoes for puddle jumping, but maybe by the time rainy season hits I'll have found some.

Here's a fun fact for you: Back home I was used to having a hot water tap and a cold water tap, and you can adjust it till you get the temperature you want. Well here in the Philippines I only have just two options: On. and Off. That means all my showers are cold. Not super cold, just cold like a swimming pool. Once you get the courage to jump in, you get used to it super quick and pretty soon it's a refreshing cool. At first it took me longer to step into the cold shower, but I've gotten pretty good at it.

 When I say I don't have hot or cold water, that doesn't mean it is the same for everyone in the Philippines. Maybe there are places where they have hot water. I haven't come across any, but I know in the nicer house/bigger cities they exist. A lot of the people we teach don't even have sinks though. They just use a water pump (usually just outside their house). Fun stuff.

 Love you all!!

Sister Abish "Email-Me-Please" Curtis

 

1. Some recent converts that we teach. Love them!

 

2. Me and my companion on a hammock :)

 

3. Family Home Evening at a member's house

 

4. Me and my companion again

 

5. This is us at Zone Conference: Me, Sister Duchene, Sister Martin, Sister Laude and Sister Calinisan... and some random Elder up at the front.

 

Monday, March 11, 2013

1st Transfer Done


I've been here six weeks now. That's one whole transfer! It's quite the accomplishment if I do say so myself. I still have six weeks left of being a trainee, for which I am grateful because I still have lots to learn.

The goal in our mission is to teach 40 lessons every week. This week we were the closest we've ever been to achieving 40 lessons. We normally get in the high thirties, but we've never gotten 40 before. On Friday we were pretty depressed because we had only been able to teach three lessons for the whole day. We had worked hard, we just didn't have much success. So we decided to work extra hard the next day. We woke up early, changed our study schedule around to make the best use of our time, and prayed for a miracle. And it was a miraculous day indeed. Not only did we have a good quantity of lessons (11), they were also quality lessons. The Lord really blessed our diligent efforts. That left an achievable amount of lessons for the next day in order for us to achieve 40. We worked hard again and did all we could, but by the end of the day we were still one lesson short of 40. It was pretty depressing, I must admit. But it has caused me to reflect. Yes the numbers are important because they help to push and motivate us. But at the end of the day it's not the numbers that the Lord cares about. It's our efforts. I'm grateful that we have numbers to motivate us, but it's important to remember that the reasons behind the numbers are even more important.

On Saturday we were able to teach a lesson to a young, less active mother. We hadn't planned on teaching her, so we didn't have a plan on what to teach. A lot of times since I'm still new, my companion will just take the lead on these kinds of things. But as we began the lesson with a song and a prayer, I kept praying in my heart to know what we should teach her. Like I said, usually my companion will take the lead, but this time when it was time to teach the lesson she turned to me. I had a question come to my mind. I asked this woman about what was important to her in life. She talked about her family. I testified about how families are central to God's plan. I explained how the church focuses so much on strengthening families. I shared about my family, how much I love them and how close we are as a family. I bore testimony that it is because of the church and living the gospel of Jesus Christ that we are such a strong family. I loved that lesson for many reasons. One, because I got to talk about something I love: my family. Two: I felt like I had truly been inspired about what and how to teach. Three: I was able to just teach and say the things I wanted in Tagalog. I hadn't practiced and studied how to say what I did, I was just able to say it.

Tagalog is still slowing coming along. Not all lessons go as good as the one I just talked about. But I'm understanding more and more. I'm most familiar with gospel discussions and vocabulary because that is what I study the most. I usually have a pretty good idea of what is going on in lessons. But as soon as someone starts talking about something that is not gospel related I get lost pretty quickly. The hardest/funniest is when people are talking about me or asking me a question. There was one day we were at a member's house for Family Home Evening. One of the teenage girls was sitting next to me, and she said something to me in Tagalog as she helped tuck some hair behind my ear. I didn't understand what she said but I was guessing she had complemented my hair or something, so I smiled and said "salamat" (thank you). Turns out she had actually asked me how old I am. Me and my companion still laugh about that.

So we got some happy news this week. In our mission we are now allowed to email our friends also, and not just our family! Yeah!!! So when people email I will be able to email them back! I'm excited! I still have the same amount of time to be on the computer though, so it's not a guarantee that you'll get a good long email back. But it will be nice to not have wait so long for you to get my response. Although I still love real mail, so don't stop sending me handwritten stuff too.


Love,
Sister Abish "One Transfer Old" Curtis

Pictures:
1. My and my companion with some members in the ward


2. The four of us Concepcion ward sisters at a community service project where we helped paint a school's gate. We got matching shirts that say "Destined to be a disturber and an annoyer of Satan's kingdom" -Joseph Smith History 1:20

 

3. In the middle is our investigator Bernie, with his wife and son in the background. Next to him are his two fellow shippers Arnold (a recently returned less active) and Tatay Rudy (a recent convert).
 

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Companion


In order for you to get a better understanding about what my life is like here, I figure I better tell you more about my companion Sister Calinisan since I literally spend all my time with her. She is a cute, fiery short little Filipina (our mission president's policy is that foreigners will always have Fhilipino companions). She just celebrated her 23 birthday this week (we made her signs, bought a cake and had a little celebration). She used to be Catholic, but when she was 15 years old she was converted and baptized. Before her mission, she was a ward missionary and spent a lot of time with the missionaries. She loves the missionary training Preach My Gospel DVDs (The District 1 and 2). She loves to watch them in some of the free time we have at night, and she often quotes them or refers to the stories. I love it!

 

My companion loves to tell people that she is not my trainer, and I am not her trainee. Instead she tells people that we are just companions. I love the confidence she has in me and it has truly helped me to grow. I'm glad she has had me help teach from the beginning and not let me just bear my testimony at the end. Although sometimes the expectations she sets for me leads to us both being frustrated.

 

We find lots to laugh and talk about. Our friendship came quickly and naturally. She will often tell me that she is so glad I'm her companion, and I feel the same way. Sometimes when she doesn't get her short afternoon power nap, she can be a little grumpy in the evenings, but our friendship is such that we can always laugh about it the next day. I learn so much from her example. She is a natural missionary and especially now that I'm understanding more and more of what is happening, I'm beginning to truly appreciate all that she does.

 

I began praying for my trainer long before I even left on my mission. I feel like my prayers have been answered as Heavenly Father has blessed me with exactly the companion that I need. I am so lucky to have Sister Calinisan as my trainer.

 

Now a little about the work...

This week we have used my Gospel Art Kit a lot. It is a book filled with pictures from the scriptures, from The Bible, Book of Mormon and Church History. It has been so helpful and useful! We use it as we teach them about gospel dispensations, modern day prophets and other gospel principles. The most common way we use it is to help the recent converts/ less active people we teach to become more excited about scripture study. We will give the book to them and let them pick whatever picture they want. We will use the scripture references that go with the picture or just tell the story, depending on who it is we are teaching. We talk about what we learn from the stories and how we can apply it in our lives. It has been a super powerful way to teach. As they see all the pictures they become so curious about the stories and by using the pictures it helps to really bring the stories to life. I love it!

 

Now for your fun fact of the week:

Even though it hasn't really rained very much yet, I've still used my umbrella almost everyday. You see, here in the Philippines everyone commonly uses their umbrellas as portable shade. It actually makes a huge difference in keeping us nice and cool and out of the sun.

 

My alarm clock not only wakes me up in the morning, it also tells me the temperature. When I first got here the temperature in my room was always somewhere between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit, although now it's usually between 85-95. So even though you all are getting so much snow at home, just think of how hot and sweaty I am here :)

 

Love you all!!

 

Sister Abish "Scripture Picture Master" Curtis

 

Phlippines Angeles Mission

F. Taredo Street

Tarlac, Tarlac 2300

Philippines