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Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Trap I Fall Into

There are certain things that just make life go so much smoother. I know this, but over and over again I fall into the same trap and try to ignore these things. Part of me doesn't want them to be true, but it's just a fact, they are.

One such thing is getting up before the kids are awake in the morning.

So, I'm up.

I'm done (at least for today--babysteps, right?) with being the sloth that lies in bed and waits for the kids to wake me.

image: teachingstars.com

At this point, my half of the bed is made. I'm off to get dressed, take care of my personal grooming, and get as many ducks in a row as I can before the kids (and husband) are moving about.

Now, the trick to not getting discouraged….Don't count on too many ducks. Be grateful that even one duck is lined up if that's all there's time for.

image: doctorscrossing.com

I'm off and running…..Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#1's Weekly Email: Week #23

Week 16 pala! Ano bayan?! Wala tayong oras ngayon. The time is far spent!

Well just so you know, this week I hit my five months. Not that I'm counting but my 6 month mark is super duper close. The time goes by so stinkin fast. It's almost scary. 

Well now we have 8 missionaries here in Masinloc. 4 elders, 4 sisters. We got one elder that was supposed to be serving in Tacloban but never made it there, Elder R. He was at the MTC at the time of the typhoon, and he came directly here. The other new elder here was serving in the office here in Olongapo mission, Elder P. He's from Idaho. We have a lot of fun here in Masinloc. The only downside is that we had to split the areas again. We split it north and south between the elders and sisters. And then Sister J. and her comp and me and my comp are splitting it left and right of the national highway. We had to give up Santa Rita which made me super sad because that's been part of my area since I've been here in the field. I love the people there so much. But I know the elders, they'll take good care of them. 

Our area now stretches all the way to the farthest barangay here in Masinloc, Taltal. I realized yesterday that by the time I get transferred, I will have served in every single part of Masinloc. Pretty sweet. Not many missionaries can say that they did that. 

I'm really going to miss this area when I get transferred. 

Because we have a new area, we have very few investigators which means that we've been finding like crazy this week. It's been a lot of fun getting to know the people around here.

One of the people that we taught this week is the owner of our apartment building, Sister Jo. Elder and Sister D. have been trying to get her to listen to the discussions for a really long time and she finally caved and we got to teach her. We taught her over at the D's house and she's very good at speaking English. President Q told us that if we have investigators that speak English, we should teach them in English. So we taught her the first lesson in English. Man, it was SO HARD. I've never taught lesson 1 all in English so of course there were a couple of spots that I hard to speak Tagalog because I had forgotten the English words for them... Weird. But it was a super fun good lesson. 

So yeah. That was my favorite part of this last week. 

This next week should be fun. Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts in my behalf. I love you all so much.
Mahal na mahal ko kayo. Have a great week!

-Sister Hess

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Snow Globe

I am so tired of writing posts and not publishing them, so tonight, I'm just going to write whatever comes to mind for five minutes, and I AM going to post it. No matter what it says, that's what you get.

image: jacquielawson.com
We got a snow globe today. I'm writing about it because it's sitting on my desktop. Not my actual 3-D desk top, but my computer desktop. My cousin sent us one last year, and my kids LOVED it. This year's is from the Edwardian era. It's just very Downton Abbey.

I downloaded it today. Tonight, as I was making dinner and music was pumping out of my computer, #6 saw the snow globe. He got SO excited. "Can I do it? Now?"

This was a great carrot. I dangled it for all it was worth.

He got right to work and finished everything on his checklist. He is now so prepared for tomorrow. I'm actually looking forward to waking up in the morning just for the fact that this kid has it together. He'll be ready to go, will waltz over to the refrigerator; grab his lunch; get on his shoes, coat and backpack; and we'll be on our way....Just like that. LOVELY!

This snow globe is not merely a shake-it-up kind of snow globe; it's an advent calendar. It actually starts to be really fun on December 1st when each day has it's own activity, but up until then, you can do puzzles, a game, or make snowflakes. It really is beautiful. I love that it is part of our Christmas tradition for a second year.

Thank you, C.J.!

I'm thinking that with this as an option, December's going to be a smooth-sailing month. They'll all get it all done every night just so they can play with the offerings of the snow globe.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

#1's Weekly Email: Week #22

Magandang umaga po sa inyo lahat! (Good Morning to you all) hehe

I can't wait to come home and speak Tagalog to you all and not have you understand me :) 

So this past week has been really fun and really hard at the same time. The challenge this week has been learning to use time wisely. It was a very, very, very busy week. We had mission president interviews, and a zone conference, and district conference and we were invited to the adult session of district conference as well. 

We've also been trying our hardest to always find people to teach. We talk to everyone that we see and it's actually super super fun. They are always shocked that I can speak Tagalog.

It's been super fun to get to know the people here. Every teaching appointment, we get more and more attached to the people here. Probably by the time that I leave Masinloc, I'll have been here for 6 months... That is gonna be really, really hard to leave. Yes, our area is really hard, but I truly love the people here. That's the key to missionary work, just share the gospel with the people you love. 

The other thing I've learned this week has been that you can't base your success on the choices of others. Some of our investigators decide that they don't want to listen to us anymore or don't want to follow the commandments, and it makes me so sad, but I know that I've done my part for them and the rest is up to them. 
My favorite part of this last week was FHE at the A's. It was so fun. I taught a lesson about obedience and then we played a bunch of games. I taught them how to play down by the banks and they liked it a lot haha FHE makes me so happy. I love them members here. 

Also, yesterday, not sure why, but we got one of our less-actives to really open up to us. Sister V Q is a less-active, and her life is really hard right now because her husband isn't very supportive of her and she has a lot of little kids. We've taught her a couple of times before but every time that we've gone to visit her afterwards she's been "not home." Yesterday, we went to her house with the hordes of little kids following us, and she was just sitting there. We talked to her, and just got to know her more and just became her friend. When we offered to teach her she said that not now but we could come back tomorrow and then when her daughter, H, asked if they could go to church she said ok, next Sunday we will go to church. Whoa. Being friendly and just talking to people really helps and makes them become more open to us. She also admitted to Sister L that the past times, she has hidden from us... haha! knew it. 

Ok so that was my two favorite parts of this last week. 

Thank you for all your love and support. Oh! and you should also know that we are getting two elders here in Masinloc from Tacloban mission. So that makes 8 missionaries now in Masinloc. WHOA. There are so many of us. Time to divide the areas again... :P

So yup. That was this past week. :) 
Mahal na mahal ko kayo (I love you all so much).
Until next week ulit
-Sister Hess

Monday, November 11, 2013

#1's Weekly Email: Week #21

I wrote something yesterday about the fact the missionaries don't have TVs, computers, newspapers, or radios. They are pretty much cut off from all kinds of news. You just go do the work at hand and leave all the rest behind. I was commenting, when I wrote this, that #1 was probably just out working and wasn't even aware of what had happened in other parts of the Philippines. I guess, in this email, we see that that is partially true. It sounds like she heard, but has no idea just what has happened. All she knows is that it was bad news.

By the way, as of this evening, most of the unaccounted-for missionaries' parents have been notified that they're safe. Last night, there were 72 unaccounted for. Reports are that all of them are safe and accounted for, but in reality, not all of the parents have been notified yet. So, it's just a matter of time until the report will be that all have been contacted.

I'd like to thank those who took the time to send messages and emails to #1 for her birthday. Sounds like she loved that little bit of extra attention.

So, without further ado, here's this week's letter.


Man, I am so happy right now. Thank you for all the birthday wishes and prayers. This past week has been hard and rewarding all in one. There is always room for improvement, and there are always opportunities to improve. I'm so thankful for that. 

image: wikipedia.com
I'm also thankful that Heavenly Father protects his missionaries. In case you didn't know, there was a super typhoon going on in the Philippines, but it wasn't in my mission. The other day we were at a signal 1 which means that there's only really, really strong wind. In other places in the Philippines it's at a signal 4... Super scary stuff. 

So anyways, this week has been fun. As we've been striving to be as obedient as possible, we've been able to notice the little miracles that Heavenly Father has seen fit to bless us with. I've realized that my ability to keep a positive attitude is a great blessing in this work. 

This last Saturday, we went to teach Sister I again. Her nephew, R, has been listening to the lessons too but it's like pulling teeth with him because he always goes and hides from us because I'm white and "scary" haha so we haven't taught him in a while. But he has a girlfriend named, M who is 18, and we've never taught her before. When we went there on Saturday, Sister I told us that M wants us to teach her. I was pretty shocked, let me tell you. So we taught her the first lesson and she was super receptive. Sister L, because she's awesome like that, invited her to be baptized and she accepted. Whaa?! No concerns or anything. I was shocked again. Heavenly Father definitely prepares people for us. 

We've taught her two more times since and every time Sister L has reextended the BGD just to make sure that she was still willing to be baptized and every time she's said yes. Whoa. And! She came to church on Sunday with Sister I. I love being a missionary :)

There are many other little miracles that we've seen here every single day. Sometimes it's hard to count all of them, but when we do, we become more grateful and really just a lot happier. 

I am so grateful to be here on my mission and to know that Heavenly Father loves me. I can tell by the little ways he takes care of me. 

Hmmm what else can I tell you. Yesterday was super fun because both Sister H and Sister E worked with us. Sister H is 57 and a branch missionary here. Sister E is her 20 year old daughter. Sister E is going to serve a mission hopefully next year, and she's gonna be amazing. I keep teasing her that she's gonna get called to America and then she's gonna have to perfect her English. She is actually really good at speaking English but she thinks she has bad grammar, so she sticks to Tagalog most of the time. But her testimony and her mom's testimonies are so strong. Sadly, they can only work with us on Sundays because they work every other day of the week. I know that members are so important to the work. They are essential

I know that Heavenly Father is preparing people all around us for the gospel. All we have to do is open our mouths and try to help them come unto him. Remember, if you share the gospel in the spirit of love, people won't get offended. 

I love you all. Thank you so much for all your prayers and love and support. Have a great week!

Until next week,
Mahal ko kayo!
-Sister Hess

p.s. Let's add "Taylor Swift" to the list of names people have called me here haha

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Lies in the Medicine Cabinet?

Here's the other story I was thinking of last night as I met with the Bishop. I DID write it down. YAY!!! I sent it in one of my emails to #1 a few weeks ago. It ties in with the other experience but is a bit more recent--mid-September.

For anyone that hasn't read the Book of Mormon, this is what it does for me....It opens a part of my brain and heart that would otherwise sit dormant. It helps me to reflect on spiritual matters. It brings balance to my life.

For anyone who hasn't read the Book of Mormon, do. But don't just do it once. Read it over and over again. Seek to understand what it's teaching YOU. Let it sink into your heart. It'll change your life!

This experience happened when I had just finished reading the Book of Mormon and was starting over from the beginning. Here's what I wrote to #1.....

As I read Joseph Smith's testimony the other day, I got stuck on the word "supplication." First, I looked it up. It said something along the lines of humbly entreating someone with higher authority to help solve a problem. Yup! That's exactly what Joseph Smith did. 

Then I thought, well, yah, that's Joseph Smith. Of course, HE could supplicate the Lord and get a major answer, but then I realized WAIT! He was, at that time, a14-year-old farm boy. What better example is there to us than this? I mean if a 14-year-old farm boy can supplicate the Lord and get an answer, why can't I?

Then I got to thinking about the honest reason or reasons why I don't supplicate the Lord more often. Here's what I came up with....I totally take it for granted that Heavenly Father will know my needs and meet them. I mean, He does that on a regular basis, but then this example occurred to me.....

#6 has been having some pretty bad asthma problems this week. Now that he's in first grade, he needs to go up to the office for his inhaler if he has issues. I mean, nobody's going to instinctively know that he's having problems and run his inhaler down to him, so he has to learn to watch for the signs and be proactive. 

In order to teach him this, I have to take a harder stance at home. I have to have him come to me when he feels he needs his inhaler, so each night before he goes to bed, I remind him that he needs to come ask for help when he needs it. So far, he hasn't come.

This is what I think is happening when I neglect the power of supplication. It's like Heavenly Father is giving me everything He can as I am obedient to His commandments. This is all FABULOUS, but there are so many other things that could be mine if I'd just ask. It's like he has his own medicine cabinet that's locked to me unless I use the key of prayer and ask Him to open it for me. He can (and does) give me everything He can that's lying on the "counter," but the most important stuff is just waiting for me to let Him know that I'm ready for it.

Wow! I'm sure I'm missing out on some really vital and important blessings that could be helping in this life. I SURELY need to supplicate the Lord more. I need to follow Joseph Smith's example. I need to allow that medicine cabinet to be unlocked on my behalf more often. 

I LOVE the Book of Mormon, and I love Joseph Smith. I'm SO grateful that he was so much smarter and humbler than I am. What a difference his actions have made on my life!

What Happens in the Closet

Tonight, I had a chance to sit and talk with our Bishop for a bit. He's a great guy! As I spoke with him, I suddenly remembered something that had happened awhile back that was somewhat miraculous. I didn't share that story with him, but as it came into my mind, I thought, "Oh, I hope I wrote that down somewhere." But, I don't think I did. DARN!

Now that I'm home, I can't even remember what it was.

Just after that experience came into my mind, there was another that I remembered as something I hadn't written down. I've had the chance to share it with my family, and I think I shared it with the Primary kids in my ward, but I don't think, like the other experience, that I ever wrote it down anywhere, so tonight's the night. Here we go.....

Let me preface this with some details....This took place in what I recall was January of this year. #1 had been in a bit of a fender bender. It was enough of a fender bender that our beloved Suburban was going to be totaled. We had to pay a $500 deductible because of the accident. I think we were taking it easy on her because she was preparing for a mission, but because #1 was involved, we felt that she should pay at least half of that deductible.

Here was the snag, though. #1 was nearly ready to turn her mission papers in. We had figured that all the money she had earned, to this point, was dedicated to her mission, and she still had a bit more to earn to reach the amount she needed to cover the entire 18 months. If she had to pay that deductible, she would have to work longer. The concern: Would she have time?

Okay, now onto the story....

One morning that January, dark and early, I got up and got in the shower. When I was done showering, I threw on some clothes and then went to comb my hair, but....there was no comb to be found.

I considered turning on some lights and looking around for a brush or comb, but then thought better of it. Plus, the scriptures were waiting, and knowing myself as I do, I knew if I allowed myself to be sidetracked, that time would be gone for the day, and it wouldn't happen. I wondered what Heavenly Father would want me to do. I didn't have to think on that long to know the answer.

I grabbed my laptop and found a spot on my bedroom floor. I sat there with the laptop on my lap and opened the Internet to the scriptures. As I read, I came across this verse in 3 Nephi:

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (3 Nephi 13:6).

My mind got stuck on this verse. I couldn't leave it without doing something about it, so I went just a few feet away and climbed into my closet. Now, I don't have a fancy walk-in closet. I have one that's roughly 2 1/2 feet deep and about seven feet wide. It has two sliding doors. It's a bit snug in there with all the clothes hanging down and the shelves, but it's not terrible. I shut the doors, and nobody knows where I am. It's pretty sweet. No one would imagine that I would go in there.

While there, I knelt and prayed. I prayed about a bunch of stuff. It was all very important to me at the time.

After I finished praying, I felt that I should jot down some of the things I'd felt. I needed a pen and paper, so I quietly opened the closet door and headed toward my bedside table on the far side of the room. As I headed toward the bed, I felt that I should grab my computer bag that was sitting there, but then talked myself out of it because I felt sure that there was a greater chance that the things I needed would be on the table.

It ended up that they were not, so here I was again in the quandary about turning on lights.

I rounded the side of the bed again, and again, felt that I should grab that computer bag....What did I have to lose?

I snagged it and sat down on the floor. I opened the flap and slipped my hand inside. The first thing I felt was a plastic package. I pulled the package out and there, to my surprise, was a bag full of combs. Combs of all sizes. What?! Combs in my computer bag? Why? Had I put those there? If so, when? Very strange.

I grabbed a comb out and ran it through my then partially dried hair. As I did so, I realized that a comb had been just what I'd needed that morning. I had sacrificed orderly hair without snags for doing what I felt God wanted me to do.

Sound silly to anyone else? I kind of chuckled to myself when I realized what had really just happened, but said a little silent prayer of thanks as I worked to detangle my hair.

How strange that He knew such a simple need and then provided it. The location of those combs made it that much more significant. I mean, I may do some pretty bizarre things, but I just can't figure out where those combs would have come from or how they got there.

I reached further into the bag and pulled out a small pile of random papers. I thumbed through them. About three or four pages in, I found something that again, gave me reason to pause and consider.

Amongst those papers was a check. The check was dated March 22, 2011. Weird. Certainly, I'd been through this bag since that time, but maybe not. My purse was stolen on March 21st that year, so I must have placed it in there because I had no purse to place it in, and I wanted to make absolutely certain that that check was put in a safe place.

Here's the extra strange thing....The check was for $225, and it was made out to....#1!

#1 was all signed up to run track that year but because of an injury, shortly after the season started, she had to bow out. That check was her reimbursement from the school. It would be what she would need to give her an enormous leg up on paying off the insurance deductible.

Again, a prayer of thanks and a great understanding that even though those weren't things I had prayed for that morning, just the little bit of obedience of climbing in that closet to pray brought about things that were needed most.

Let me just tell you, prayer works.

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (3 Nephi 13:6).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rockin' the Checklist

I made the rockin'est checklists for my boys. Seriously, they have everything shy of breathe and blink listed. Use one of these lists, and you just can't go wrong. There are three of them--morning, after school, and evening. I printed them, placed them so very carefully into page protectors, and inserted them into notebooks. I even made cute covers that say "[#5]'s Organized Life." Oh, and each book has its own dry erase marker.

So, as you can probably guess, the kids can mark on the page protector as they finish a job and move on down the list. When the day is done, they simply erase the marks, and voila! They're ready for the next day. Easy, right?

If followed correctly, the kids have everything they need by the door waiting for them in the morning. Their lunches are made, homework's in their backpacks, prayers are said and teeth are brushed.

The first day was HEAVENLY! It was a novelty, so they were
totally on board. Things were done early. There was time to play when all the work was done. They were happy, and I was oh, so very happy--almost to the point of joyful. I thought I had it all worked out....no more bumps in the road, no more late mornings.

I even went out and purchased a couple of alarm clocks since these two boys didn't have their own. Yes, the scene was set. Life was going to be absolutely blissful and worry free.

....And it will be.....Once I can teach them to self-manage, and I will. Believe me. If it kills me, I will.

The older boys have it pretty much figured out. The oldest of the three thrives on lists. It keeps things very solid for him. The middle of the three is of an age where he's learning to enjoy the consequences of good choices. But, the youngest of the three? Well......

Therein lies my challenge. I figure, though, if we can get on top of this together and let enough negative  and positive consequences come to pass, they will eventually teach him the value of these lists. The hope is that eventually he'll see the difference between how he feels when he does it and when he doesn't do it.

Let me give you a little illustration. Now, I'm laughing about it, but this morning, I wasn't.

We headed to school. The older brothers had it ALL together. They were smiling and laughing and life was great. The younger brother was doing the same, but then I double checked to see if they had their lunches. They got out the door so smoothly, I just felt that they must have forgotten something.

The older boy assured me that all was well, but younger boy shot me a look.....A look I recognize SO very well. It's the I'm-trying-as-hard-as-I-can-to-fly-under-your-radar look. So, I asked again, "Did you get your lunch?" He sheepishly answered, "No." Head was bowed and everything.

I said, "Well, run home and get it. We're not that far away. We'll walk slowly."

He continued the look. I encouraged a bit more, and then he said, in almost a whisper, "I didn't make one."

It was marked off on the chart last night. It was done. Why can't they make dry erase markers that only mark if you're telling the truth? Just think of how that would clear up about a million and a half things in our world!

After quite a bit of persuasion on my part, he finally went home.

He took FOREVER. I wondered if there were some kind of technical difficulties at home, so I broke one of my own rules and sent the older brother walking to school by himself. I walked back and intercepted the younger brother as he came around the bend. I opened his backpack and found a bagel and a box of raisins in his brown paper sack.

Do I need to continue this story?....It gets better.....

As I walked up onto the front porch with him to help him make sure that
he had an appropriate noontime meal (that first graders eat at 10:30am), I was a bit surprised at what I found....Two white garbage bags tucked ever so carefully under the bench on the deck. Huh? No. Uh uh. That is so NOT what I'm seeing.

Oh, yes it is.

One of the things on the checklist in the evening is to ask mom for a job to help around the house. This same child was given the job of emptying the garbages around the house and taking them out to the can.....Well....I think you get my gist here.

Not only did he have a lunch to finish making, but he now had some garbages to take out as well. Lucky boy! Look at all of these fabulous learning opportunities he's giving himself. Ugh!

He gave me a hard time about having to take those garbages out until I, ever so lovingly, explained that garbage attracts all kinds of small animals--rats, mice, etc. With trash that close to the house, the vermin will eventually get into the house....and then....you know whose room is the first they will find?

Well, let's just say that was enough to motivate.

The garbage went out, the lunch got made, and since I wasn't leaving until I had to take little sister to preschool, he even had time to empty the dishwasher.

We both got to the school in time for me to be there for my volunteering assignment in his classroom.

Yes, darn it! These lists WILL work. Do you now see why I say "If it kills me?"

Having seen them work so well those first few days, I still have hope.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

#1's Weekly Email: Week #20

I remember having similar experiences while I served my mission to what it seems #1 is having now....Times when everywhere you turned there were lessons that had the same theme.  For example, I remember one period of time when everyone I met had some kind of life-after-death kind of story to share with me. I sometimes wondered if these were just my imagination or some sort of coincidence, but there would be so many of them that it soon became clear that these were lessons that I needed to learn and that Someone I couldn't see was directing my education. I'm so glad to see that Sister #1 is having this kind of schooling as well.

FYI, I've learned that a "BGD" is, if I'm remembering correctly, a baptism goal date.

I know I've mentioned that #1 is not a cryer, so whenever she mentions the fact that she's cried, it makes me really sit up and take notice. 

So happy for m'girl. Sounds like she's loving everything she's doing.


You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile :)

This week has been really fun. We've been working hard, and it seems like everything has re-emphasized to me how important families are

We've taught a lot of lessons to families this week. Sister E's husband, F, is in town. We've taught him three lessons, and he went to church with her on Sunday. He's told us multiple times how grateful he is for the Gospel and the blessing it's been for his family. He's not even a member yet! Hopefully he'll get baptized, but it probably won't happen for a while because his job takes him so far away. 

We also taught the S family this week. Sister S is a less-active and they have a really big family. Nine kids. We've been teaching them, and this week we extended a BGD to Brother S, and he accepted. He said his greatest dream is that all his family will be part of the same religion. 

Sister and Elder D's family came into town this week. They have twin sons, E and C. They're 9 years old and the remind me so much of [#5]. 

Anyway, at church yesterday, both little boys bore their testimonies. It was so sweet. 

I bore my testimony too. Not sure why, but I started crying at the pulpit. That never happens. I bore my testimony about families and how important they are. Namimiss ko talaga ung pamilya ko (I really miss my family), but I know that missionaries leave their families for a short time so other families can be together for eternity. I'm so grateful for the chance to serve and help other families. I love the people here so much and all I want for them is for them to be together with their families forever and experience the joy I experience through the Gospel. I know that this is the true church on earth. There isn't a doubt in my mind. I know that the Gospel blesses families and we all need to share the Gospel with our families.

Alam ko na totoo ung simbahan ni Jesucristo. There isn't a doubt in my mind. Everyday I testify to people and strive to help them return to Heavenly Father. Shall we not go on in so great a cause?

Thank you so much for all your prayers for me. I can feel them everyday. I love you all so much. Onward, Christian soldiers, Keep going and sharing the Gospel. The end is coming and we all need to be prepared. Kaya natin yen! (We can do it!)

Mahal na mahal ko kayo.
Until next week, 
Sister Hess

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