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Sister Abish Curtis

November 2012- May 2014

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kinda short letter... but at least there are a lot of pictures

Dear Reader,

Thank you reading. 

Little Rhea was baptized this weekend! It was such a sweet little thing. But she didn't come to church yesterday, and we don't know why. But hopefully next week she will come in order to complete her baptism by being confirmed and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Last week at our zone goal setting, the leaders were surprised with the number we had goaled for less actives returned for the month of December: eight. That is the highest number I have ever goaled for, so it was not a normal thing for me either. It is a miracle. Most of those people will be returning within the first or second week and we are pretty sure about them. As I’ve reflected about how we have been able to do it, I’ve been lead to our focus on the temple. For all these people we have been focusing on how important the temple is, and their desire to attend. We have extended a temple goal date to them, and have been working with them to be ready for it. It has really helped to motivate them and get them to church. It is a miracle and hope I will have the chance to attend with them.

I am a happy missionary. I am to the point where I am loving every day of my mission. There are still hard things that happen. But when you’re a missionary, hard doesn't mean bad. 

Sister "I like to look for rainbows, whenever there is rain" Curtis



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

One year?!?!

First thing first, I realize that last week I didn't mention much about the the typhoon that hit the Philippines. Lots of people have been asking and worrying, so I'll fill you in on what I know. The storm itself hit pretty far from where I'm so it didn't effect us here. But from what I hear it hit pretty hard down in Tacloban. 
A little background about missions in the Philippines; when I got my mission call there were 17 missions in the Philippines. In the last year that number has gone up to 21 missions. Tacloban is the mission that was hit the hardest. It was hit so hard that they are now closing the mission for the next little while, because there are not really people there left to teach. The devastation was pretty bad, so most of the survivors have moved. All the missionaries are safe, but they are being reassigned to other missions. In our mission we have received 15 new missionaries, plus a senior couple, all of whom are coming from Tacloban. 
I am safe and well, but continue to pray for those who are not. 

On Nov. 14th I hit my one year mark as a missionary. Isn't that the craziest thing you've ever heard of? I can't believe it's really been a whole year since I've seen my family.
The time has gone by sooooooo fast. I still feel like a new missionary, but hitting my year mark makes me realized how long I've really been here. It has caused me to reflect on some of the changes I've seen in myself and the things I've experienced. Here are some:

-People tell me I've look like I've lost weight, but I'm not so sure about that. I've maybe just lost the 5lbs that I gained at the MTC. 
-Tan lines. My favorite tan lines are the ones of my feet. But besides that I'm not nearly as tan as I should be considering I'm spending every day of my life out in the Philippines
-I have some pretty sweet knee calluses on my knees from all the knelling prayers that we offer as missionaries every day of our lives. 
-I can walk forever, carrying a heavy bag, rain or shine.
-I just taught my first ever squatting lesson. I didn't think I was capable of doing that because of my knee surgery, but I thought wrong, because I can totally do it!

-As a missionary I've experienced the full spectrum of emotions. I've been so happy, so depressed, so excited, so frustrated, so satisfied, and so many other things.
-I've experienced vicariously through others the many types of problems in life
-I've learned how to deal with different things.

-I've spend 24/7 with 5 different companions. They are all different, none of us are perfect, but I love them all. And I'm planning for us to be friends for the rest of our lives. 
-I've met so many neat missionaries. 
-Seeing qualities that I like in people. Realizing the qualities that I don't really like in people.  
-The members who I have learned to love and serve.
-I've never known so many people in my life. I've learned to not be afraid to just talk to all the random people that I come in contact with

-I learned a whole new language. How neat is that! I've still got a lot to learn thought.
-I'm a much better teacher than I was before. I guess that kinda happens after you teach all day everyday. 
-I've learned how to cook things that I didn't even know existed before. I'm excited to come home and cook for all y'all.
-I've actually learned about a billion other neat things that can't even be included.

Spiritually (This is the most significant)
-My testimony has grown stronger
-I have a greater appreciation for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, of my family and of life in general. 
-I've learned to pray more sincerely and I'm closer to my Father in Heaven than ever before
-In ways that I cannot even describe, my life has been changed forever.  

Besides passing my one year mark last week, I also passed a different anniversary. November 15 marked ten years since I received my Patriarchal blessing. I am so grateful for that blessing, and the way it gives me direction for my specific problems even here on my mission. Something significant about my blessing, is that after I received it as a 13 year old girl, it was at that point in my life I realized I needed to be reading my scriptures everyday. For the past ten years I can count on my fingers how many days I've gone without reading the scriptures. My scripture study habit has made a huge impact on my life. If someone was to ask for my advice for preparing for a mission, I would tell them to develop a scripture study habit. Not only will it prepare you for the hours you spend each day as a missionary studying. But it will give you more power as you bear your testimony and teach truths. It will be a resource for you to draw from as you face the challenges in life. Missionary or not, I plead with all of you to read the word of God every day. It will change you life!

I want to tell you a little bit about my best friend of a companion. Sister de Guzman. One of the things I love about her, is what we do every night before we go to bed. We pray together as a companionship. Then after we've turned the lights out and said our personal prayers, we tell each other we love each other. Then we usually talk for a little bit just about whatever. Sometimes it results in me throwing my pillow at her. Every night I fall asleep as a happy missionary. I love Sister de Guzman!!

Sister "6 months left is actually a really long time" Curtis

1-Exchanges with the Sister Training Leader
2-Me and Sister de Guzman in a trike. I had to use a lot of hairspray to get my hair to stay up like that. Just kidding. It was really windy. And hairspray is way to expensive here. 
3-Pday at the mall, getting to see some other missionaries
4- The other Sister Training Leader. Love her!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Let me tell you about Mike

Once upon a time there was a man named Mike. His arms are covered with tattoos, we has long sideburns and a goatee. He pretty much looks like a gangster. He has a daughter, though he is not married to the mother and they are separated now. He loves his daughter even though she was taken away from him. He lives in a huge a beautiful mansion like house. But it is really pretty empty on the inside.
He eventually was able to meet a beautiful young lady who he feel in love with. She happened to be a Mormon, even the daughter of a Bishop. They dated and eventually got engaged. The months before their wedding she is spending out of the country working. She never pushed her religion as part of their courtship. But now for whatever reason, the time is right and he is ready to listen to the missionaries. 
This is where I come in. Mike is the future brother in law of Brother Boogie, and he brought us to him as a referral. Our first lesson was almost two months ago, and now we teach him every Sunday night. 
Like I said before he looks like a gangster, but the most inspiring things come out of his mouth. God is actually super important to him. Our first he actually cried as he talked about his daughter. He is so sincere about our lessons. And ever though we are always laughing and joking during the lesson, there are times we serious and spiritual.
He has been to church six times now, and we are seeing the difference in him. He is noticing the difference in himself. He told us how he doesn't make the sign of the cross anymore when he prayers (we never even taught him about that). He is comfortable at church. Two weeks ago he told us how he has started approaching the Sacrament part of Sacrament meeting. He uses it as a time to really ponder and worship. He says it makes a difference of how much he is inspired for the rest of the meeting. Golden. 
He is reading The Book of Mormon. He loves to visualize the things he reads. He had the most interesting insights after he read Joseph Smith's story. He asked if he could borrow the "Restoration" video after we watched it with him. 
He has great fellow shippers. Brother Boogie is always there, and then since we need another female when we teach males, there is always at least one other. At least. There have been times when we have had 6 members with us at our lessons. It is pretty awesome. We all sit there at his big table. Sometimes they all like to talk a lot, so it takes a while to start the lesson. But now Mike already has so many friends. 
You may be wondering, if he has come to church so many times, and is reading the Book of Mormon, and progressing in so many other ways, why doesn't he have a baptismal goal date yet? That's a good question. 
We have talked about it a lot, but he feels pressured. He won't settle on a date. You see he doesn't know for sure yet. At least that's what he says. We've talked about how faith grows slowly. Like the rising sun, there is not one second where you suddenly engulfed in light. It is a slow and gradual, but sure thing. We have promised an answer will come.
I loved last night in our lesson when he was talking about the church. In the middle of the sentence after a half a millisecond pause, he said "our church." He admitted himself that he will be baptized. He just doesn't know when yet. We challenged him to pray about it this week, and next week we will set a date. I'm guessing it will probably be sometime before his wedding (Jan 5).
I know I am
The storm was far away from were I am, so we just got a little extra wind and rain the day it hit. But I hear things are pretty bad down south.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I love Sister de Guzman!!!!

Last week on transfer day after I had picked up my new companion, we caught a bus back to Cabanatuan. There were many missionaries there on the bus with us, including Sister Ocampo (my first trainee) and her companion. Sister Ocampo is amazing, and I saw as she taught a whole lesson there on the bus to someone she had just meet. I swelled with pride as I thought "That's my anak!" (anak translates into child, which in this case refers to my trainee) Later that day me and my new anak Sister de Guzman were out teaching our second lesson of the day, as in the second lesson she had ever taught.  Sister de Guzman is an amazing teacher, I couldn't believe the expertise with which she taught. I swelled with pride again as I thought "That's my anak!" But that's when I was hit with humility. This was only Sister de Guzman's first day, there was no way she had learned that from me. And Sister Ocampo also, she would have turned out amazing whoever her trainer had been. I realized how incredibly blessed and lucky I am. The Lord trusts me enough to train, but he gives me "trainees" that actually teach me more than I could ever teach them. 

Let me tell you a little about Sister de Guzman's first week. 
She continues to amaze me with her missionary skills. I really don't feel like she is a new missionary. She has so many great ideas. She is excited to do missionary work and it is contagious. 
I know she is home sick (what missionary isn't homesick especially their first week) but she doesn't show it too much. She is focused on the work, she will always out of no where ask about random people from our area. She has been able to love these people right away. Something else she does is serve me all the time. I often find my shoes clean and shined, I have to fight her for a turn to do the dishes, and so many other great things. I just love her. We work hard, but also have so much fun. We are able to talk about anything together and laugh about everything.
On Friday she had her 24th birthday. I woke up early to decorate the house. A missionary birthday is not much different than any other day, but I tried my best to make it special for her. We ended the night by having dinner with her favorite less active family. 

Sister de Guzman is doing so great! She has extended the baptismal goal (and it was excepted). She is the best OYMer that I have ever been companions with. She is mature and confident, but is also so humble and teachable. I know that she misses her family, but she is still able to be so focused on the work and is constantly serving me. How in the world did I get so lucky to be companions with this amazing missionary.

This week I had the first heart-break of my mission. Sister Bondoc has been one of my very favorite investigators ever since we first meet here and her less-active husband. I feel like I have done some of my best teaching in their home. After working with them for a couple months they finally come to church for the first time. It was amazing! That was why we were confused when in our next lesson she "dropped" us. She has undeniably felt the spirit and our love for her. But she says she was time to think about it, and she will text us when she is ready again. Her, her husband, me and my companion all cried during the lesson. Then after the lesson me and my companion had a good cry at home (it was the last appointment of the night). It was heart-breaking, but I was still able to feel at peace. We had done everything the very best we could. And I have a feeling that we will hear from her again. We are always praying for her, and we included her in our fast. I know she is in God's hands and he will take care of her. 

Another fun fact of the week. I got to meet the Royals. Before my mission I searched the internet to find anything about the Angeles Mission. I found the blogspot of Elder Royal and I was a faithful follower. I also found the blog entries of his parents when they came to pick up their first son who also served in the Angeles mission. I loved reading their blogs.   Well, Elder Royal just finished his mission and  his parents came back to the Philippines again to pick up their son. Since Kalikid was E. Royals first area, they came here and had a special ward activity for them. It was a fun night.   It was Elder Royal's blog that inspired me to set up a blog of my own. I have already had a couple of the new missionaries admit to me that they read my blog before my mission. I love that I am able to help them. Here is a shout out to all those who are reading my blog because they will soon be serving here in the Philippines Angeles Mission. I hope I get to meet you someday. 

Love Sister "Proud Mama" Curtis