Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Amy's June 3rd email!

Magandang umaga/hapon!!! (Good morning/evening!!!)

To answer some questions: 

The people here are rich and poor, but mostly and average of lower middle class. There are small houses and there are big houses. But the people here are SOOO humble!! It's amazing the difference in attitude and receptiveness from the province to the city. We can talk to just about anyone here and they're so nice, they will almost always either let us in or will give us their information for missionaries to go to them. 

Yes, they still call out because I am tall and white, but it's not quite as much in the city. They stare a lot, especially because there are two white ones now, and yes, they are very shocked when I start speaking Tagalog to them. But sometimes it comes in handy. Just earlier we were doing our shopping, and these two workers started talking to me as soon as they found out I could speak Tagalog. I ended up getting their phone numbers and information, and they said we could come share a message with them. Awesome!!

I had heard that the Tagalog here in Mindoro was very deep, so I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to understand a lot. But I've been very surprised to find out that I understand almost everything, and they understand me! Heavenly Father is really blessing me with the gift of tongues. Sometimes it is hard in our apartment because Sister Soliven doesn't speak much English and Sister Milsom doesn't speak much Tagalog, so sometimes I am having to translate and be the middle person. But I'm trying to help Sister Milsom with her Tagalog and Sister Soliven has been practicing her English, so we're still functioning, and people can mostly understand one another. It makes things interesting. :)  Sister Milsom is also a very strong personality and likes to talk and be heard. Sister Soliven is a quiet, reserved sister who loves to listen and have silence. She's having a bit of a hard time having patience with Sister Milsom. I am praying for them and for guidance, and I know we are together this transfer for a reason. I'm so excited to see what Heavenly Father has in mind for us and what He wants to teach us! 

Mom, you asked if there are any deaf? Actually, I met one sister who is Deaf. She studied sign language, so she knows it, but no one else in her family does. They treat her almost as if she's just there and has no purpose. I really feel for her. She always has a huge grin on her face when we come over, and we'll chat a little bit. But then she is told to go take the kids outside and distract them so the others can focus on the lesson. I'm not sure where the balance is. The first time we went there I tried to interpret, but then I would lose the interest of the less-active and couldn't focus on her. And when I would speak, I found it extremely difficult to sign at the same time because the grammar's so different. I'm praying to know what to do.

Wow. Time is flying and there is SO much work to do. We are covering two areas here, and there are so many people to go find and teach!! We are having a hard time finding enough time to get to everyone, and we've actually gone on splits a couple of times to make up some time. We are very blessed here. There are several of the branch missionaries that are very willing and eager to work with us when they can. They know the areas and know where the investigators live, so I could ask them to show me where someone lived if I didn't remember how to get there. They are awesome. 

We are experiencing miracles here in Mindoro. Krisitine Joy, one of our less-active members is starting to have a change of heart. She was baptized several years ago and then fell away. We've gone to her place several times to teach her, and she's receptive, but very closed in. She's only 18 years old and I love her so much!! We felt prompted to teach her about missionary work and suggested that she pray about the decision. The spirit was strong. We shared personal experiences and she still seemed so closed in. One of her best friends is one of the branch missionaries that works with us, so we invited Kristine and her active friend, Remy to work with us missionaries on Sunday. She actually came to church and then she quickly left before we could catch her. We ended up going to her house to pick her up, and she eventually came out in jeans and said she'd work. Time was limited, but she was able to work with us for two appointments. I loved watching her testimony grow as we shared. The first appointment, she just listened and didn't want to say anything. But that was okay. At our second appointment, we read 1 Nephi 9, and focused on the last two verses. The spirit was strong, and Kristine bore her testimony!! On the way back, we were all laughing and having fun, but she was quiet. After a bit she said she just wanted to say thank you to us sisters. She said she really didn't want to work with us earlier. But we were persistent. She said as we shared at the different houses, she started to feel a change in herself and a desire to change her life. She wants to come back to church. She has the desire now!! It's so amazing what missionary work does and what this gospel does!! She is still in my prayers every night along with many of our investigators/ less actives, and I know she will turn her life around, and she will be able to experience that peace and joy that comes from the gospel again. We see so many miracles every day!! That's just one example of a million!

I know this gospel is true. I know that this is the Lord's work, and when we put our trust in Him, miracles happen. We can accomplish anything with His help. The branch here is very weak and unorganized, but with the help of the Lord, it will eventually become stronger and become a ward. I am praying for that day! I love the people here and I love my companions. I love this gospel and how beautifully simple it is. I am constantly being reminded that I am not a perfect teacher, but I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost who guides and teaches. We're just the instruments. The real teacher is the Holy Ghost. He testifies of the truthfulness of our message. He has testified to me, and I know it's true. 

I love you all! I love the scriptures. The Book of Mormon is TRUE. It really does change lives. Keep being amazing and trust that Heavenly Father will help you! Miracles happen!

Sister Harston

Amy's May 26th email! 

Hello ulit my wonderful family!

I received a text from the APs last week saying that the sister I would be training would be a foreigner!! (either American or from the Islands, not Filipino). That would mean it would be a someone who doesn't really know the language. I remember those times. It was tough. So I had to prepare myself to start speaking English again. I think my companion, Sister Suliven was a bit nervous to speak English, because she's still learning it, but because she's so positive, she told me she was super excited.

Sister Milsom, from Australia, came in on Friday!! The couple missionaries in our area drove her from the airport to our apartment. She has an awesome accent. Grabe it was so hard to speak English! haha. I'm sure it sounded really awkward at first, but I've mostly gotten used to it now. :) We have been really busy these last couple of days, trying to explore and figure out the new area that has been added to our area. It's been pretty crazy. I'm really feeling for Sister Milsom. She is so tired from all the walking, and is not used to the heat. She is overwhelmed with the language, especially because she is a talker, and doesn't know how to say hardly anything yet. But she is awesome and is determined to help the investigators with their needs and find out how we can help them progress. She is a very strong willed person, and when she wants to do something or get something done, she just does it. She'll be a blessing here in Mindoro. The branch and district here is very weak, especially in leadership, and they need to be guided in the right direction and strengthened. I'm excited to see this transfer.

I am still working on the area, and am just starting to understand it. Directions have always been one of my weaknesses, and I'm definitely being tested right now. Sister Suliven is awesome and has drawn maps for me and still quizzes me sometimes. She just finished her training program but seems like she's been in the mission for a long time. She is very responsible and mature. She's amazing.

I am loving the people here! I love the people I have met so far, and I just want to give everyone hugs because they are so wonderful!! (Only the sisters of course.)  :)  

Mom, you mentioned that teaching is a great way to drill information into your mind. That is so true. I think that's exactly the reason that Heavenly Father is giving me these opportunities to train! I feel like I'm now going through the training program for myself for the third time! I love it! I learn so much more each time. Heavenly Father knows I need drilling and knows I need repetition to learn something. So even though I'm technically training, I am really going through the training program for the third time now for myself! I am so grateful for Heavenly Father's love for me and for each one of us. He knows each one of us and exactly what we need to learn and grow into the person He knows we can become.

I love this gospel. I love this area right now. It's absolutely beautiful! (I'll have to send pics next week).  I love my companions. I love the people in this branch. I love our investigators and the less actives. I want to be able to bring this gospel to them and help them see how it will change their lives. Earlier this morning in our district meeting, our district leader shared a thought. He said something like, when we have something or experience something great or wonderful, one of the first things we do is share it with our families so they can experience that joy. That's exactly what we do as missionaries! All of us people in the world are brothers and sisters, heavenly siblings--we're all family!! So our biggest desire ought to be to share the thing that makes us the happiest with our brothers and sisters. That's the gospel of Jesus Christ!! It makes so much sense. We must get over ourselves and see them as our brothers and sisters. We must give everyone a chance to accept the gospel in their lives. I love missionary work. It's not always easy, but it is so worth it. I am changing. I feel a difference in my life, and I want that for others. I still have so much more I want to learn, and I am grateful for everything Heavenly Father has taught me so far. I am excited to see what else He has in store for each one of us! :)

I love you all!! Thank you for all your love and support. You have no idea what that means to me. I pray for you often!!

Sister Harston
A Beautiful day for a run on the beach!

My companions!
Amy's May 20th email home! Lot's of new changes in this one!

How is my wonderful family??

Thank you for all your emails! I love you all and am so grateful for all your love and support. Mom, thank you for keeping me updated with all the things around there! I loved hearing all your voices last week. You are all amazing!

Wow, SO much has happened since we last talked and since I wrote last. Transfer day is tomorrow...but I got a surprising call last Friday morning at about 7:30am from the APs (assistants to the mission president). I had no idea what the call was for, but Sister Paloma picked up and they asked to talk to me. They asked me about the area and about my companion (the normal conversational starters) and then told me they had some news for me. I would be transferring! I wasn't really that surprised, but I was pretty curious as to why they called me to let me know so early. Usually we find out if we are transferring on the Tuesday before transfer day (Wednesday). Then they said... I would be transferring to.... MINDORO!!! That's the little island that almost all the missionaries beg to go to sometime in their mission because it's so beautiful. Then they said that I needed to pack my bags and say goodbye to our investigators because the APs would pick me up that night at 8pm and I would sleep at the mission home. My flight was for the next day at 6:05am, so I'd be leaving the mission home around 3:30am to drive to the airport. Grabi! So fast! I was in shock for a bit. I laughed, cried, and so did my companion and kabahay (the other sisters that live in our apartment with us). They are super sweet. I love them all. We had a change of plans for the day and went around to say goodbye to some investigators and less active members. It was really hard to say goodbye. I pray that they will stay strong and will continue to grow closer to their Savior and follow His teachings. The Escueta family was probably the hardest one to say goodbye to. We had actually planned to just drop by and say goodbye, but Sister Marilyn Escueta (the mom) asked us to share a message before we left. I was so touched. They are so amazing. We shared a short message with them and then had to say goodbye. I tried really hard not to cry, but...well... you know me. :) It was even harder to see them cry, especially Sister Escueta. I pray for them that they will continue to progress and that their whole family will eventually be baptized. They deserve the happiness and peace that this gospel brings. I also pray for the new missionary that will be transferred there, that they will love each of the families as much as I did and do all they can to help them. I have full confidence in Sister Paloma that she will continue. She's amazing.

It felt really weird being without a companion when I was picked up Friday night by the APs from our apartment. I was told that I would only be able to bring one suitcase to Mindoro and it had to be 20 kilos or lighter (about 40lbs). I eventually had to buy a large "no weight" bag, and take my black duffle as the carry on. My missionary waist/shoulder bag was my "purse," so I packed it with books until it was about busting at the seams. :)  But I eventually got everything I needed under the right weight limit and Sister DeLaMare showed me to the room where I'd be sleeping. It was HUGE!! I had a huge queen-sized bed with a comforter and tons of pillows all to myself and a walk-in closet and bathroom. There was even air conditioning. I didn't really know what to do with myself. I almost felt like I was afraid to touch anything because it was all so clean and beautiful. It's amazing how my perspective has changed since I've been here. I ended up turning the air con down because I was cold even though I was under the sheet and big comforter. I have a feeling I am going to freeze when it's time to go home. haha.

The Office elders picked me up at 3:30am and drove me to the airport. They gave me the flight plans and dropped me off at the airport. I didn't really know where to go or what to do and neither did they, so I said a quiet prayer and walked inside the big building. I asked a couple people and was pointed in the right direction. I got everything checked in and sat down to wait for my flight. I got to study and write in my journal while I was waiting, so the wait was worth it. The flight was quick (about 30 mins) and I was greeted by the Zone leaders of the Mindoro District just outside of the airport, along with my new companion, Sister Suliven, and Elder and Sister Heywood, a senior missionary couple. We drove to a small bakery and bought some breakfast, then they drove me to our apartment! Driving out of the airport parking lot, we got to see a glimpse of the ocean! Beautiful! Elder Heywood told me to take a good, long look because I wouldn't be seeing it in a long while. It wasn't in our area. We get the rice fields. :) Oh, shucks.

Our apartment is small, but clean looking downstairs. We actually have tile floors downstairs. Upstairs is just cement flooring, and there are three bedrooms, but we just use one of them as our closet and changing room. Our beds and study desks are downstairs because it's so hot upstairs. Mindoro is known for it's brown-outs. So we have a lot of them. There are times when our electricity just goes out so we have no electric fan, lights, or electricity for our refrigerator, so it makes things interesting. It's an adventure!! I love it. We also don't have a sink, but we have a spicket(sp?) in a small enclosed area outside, and a few large basins for washing our dishes and washing our hands. Or we can use the spicket in the bathroom that we use to fill up our bucket for showers. It's so simple, I love these new experiences every transfer. We have to buy our water because the water is not filtered here or safe to drink. But the water that we buy tastes good and fresh, so we are blessed. :)

We actually got permission to go running at about 5:30am to meet some of the other elders in our zone at the beach! It felt so good to jog. It's actually my first time since I left the MTC to actually jog outside, not just in place or up and down the stairs. The air here is so clean! It's completely different from the city where there is always traffic noise and polluted air. It is gorgeous here. The beach still had quite a bit of garbage on it, but it is so much cleaner than the city. I definitely miss the people in the city, but I love the area here in the province. There are no jeepneys here, just tricycles, so we trike a lot. 

We had zone interviews here this last Saturday, the day I arrived, so President and Sister DeLaMare flew out and we had a great few meetings and I got to have another interview with President! I love the interviews with him. He is definitely called of God. I guess I was eager to have another interview for selfish reasons. Whenever President interviews, he always asks if we would like a blessing at the end. I always take advantage of that when I can. The Priesthood authority is so powerful and real. In my interview with him, he told me he had some news for me. He told me that we would be getting one more sister in our companionship next week Friday, and we would also be taking over one of the elders areas. That means whitewashing!! Whitewashing is when an Elders area becomes a sisters area or visa versa. We will be covering two areas-- our own and the area of the elders that will be leaving Mindoro. Next transfer we will be four sisters again, but this transfer we will have us three. Wow. So the last couple of days the elders have been showing us around their area and introducing us to the investigators and less actives. It is going to be a lot of work, but it's what Heavenly Father wants us to do, so we'll do it. I'm a bit overwhelmed with having to learn two new areas, but I was blessed to be able to not be overwhelmed and learn at the pace I need to. Sister Suliven is awesome, too. She has been really patient and is drawing me maps and is always quizzing me as to where the places and people are. 

Then I got a call from the APs yesterday saying they had some news for me. They asked if I knew about the third sister that would be coming in, and I told them that President had told me. Then they said... "You will be training again Sister Harston!" That third missionary will be a brand-new missionary! I'm super excited, but a bit nervous. I'm praying for her! I am still learning the area and the people, and how to be a good missionary. Sometimes I don't understand why Heavenly Father has so much trust in me. He's helped me in the past, so I'm going to put my trust in Him and he'll help me again. I just have to remember to breath, smile, and pray. :)  I am so grateful for my companion Sister Suliven. She is super sweet and super strong. She just finished her training, but she seems much more mature than a new missionary. I love her to death, and I'm having fun getting to know her better. 

I just found out two of the other missionaries that were in my MTC zone are training, too!! Sister Elsmore and Elder Vandyke. I'm way excited for them. They are amazing missionaries. I have such a good relationship with all my MTC zone missionaries. It's always like a family reunion when we see each other at Transfer meetings and temple days and such. :)

I'm sorry I wrote a book, but a lot has happened!! I know this gospel is true, and I love meeting people and seeing and hearing about the changes that the gospel has brought to their lives. I love you all!! 

Sister Harston

Amy's May 13th email home. For those of you who don't know, Missionaries from our church are allowed to call home twice a year: Mother's Day and Christmas. We got to talk to her on mother's day!!

Happy Mother's Day again!

Wow, it was sooo good to hear your voices. Most of you sound the same, but goodness gracious, Christina, you sound so mature now! I honestly had to think twice before I realized it wasn't Stephanie talking. :) Stop growing up! ;)

Mom, Jerry, Tyler, Jessica, Steph, Richie, Christina, Dad! All of you! Thank you for your continual love, prayers, and support. It was so good to hear each of your voices. Tyler, that was super fun chatting sa Tagalog!! Grabi, magaling talaga ka pa rin! You're still way better than me, but I'll get there. :) 

I am really loving the people here. They are so amazing. It's amazing how much love you can have for a complete stranger. When I ask for it, I can really feel the love of our Heavenly Father for each of His children. He wants them to return to Him and come unto His son, Jesus Christ. I love reading the scriptures and keeping a notebook by. This past week my companion has had a bit of a hard time with homesickness, wondering if a mission is really for her, and I was able to share and relate my personal study to her and to our lives. I think it really helped her. She seemed a lot happier after that. There are still times when she really questions it, but I think she is a little more decided now. It is amazing what the spirit can do. Sometimes we have no idea what to say or how to help, but when we put our trust in the Lord, we will always be told what we should say. That is true. It is definitely still a work in progress, but I want to be able to say that I am always worthy to have the spirit with me. In "The Fourth Missionary Talk," one of the quotes in there says something like, "One of the greatest battles you will ever face will be within the silent chambers of your heart. For that is where you choose between your will or God's will." It goes something like that. But it is so true! We just have to give up. We have to dedicate ourselves to Him, and not care about what we want. What does He want me to do? That's all that is important. Then I must do. It sounds so easy! But sometimes it is hard. But I am doing my best and will continue to put my trust in my Heavenly Father that He will strengthen me and fill my mouth with the words that I need to speak. 

Next week is transfer week, so I will email on Tuesday, again. Pday will be on Tuesday this time, and transfers are on Wednesday. We don't know who will be transferring or staying, but we think Sister Abonitalla will be transferring and Sister Codangos will stay and lead their area. I've now been in this area for three transfers, (every transfer is 6 weeks), so it's very likely that I will transfer, too with Sister Paloma staying to lead the area. But we don't know. We might both stay or she might transfer. We shall see. :)

I love you all so much!! Keep being amazing! This gospel is TRUE!!

Sister Harston
Another Short May 6th email!

We actually get a little more time to email! We had an hour before a zone activity, and we get to have our second hour now! :)  So I'll send some pics of our zone activity. We went to a place called Centris Circle and went inside a historical museum about one of the past presidents of the Philippines. There was a big park area and lots of good places for silly pictures. :) 

Love you lots!!
Sister Harston

At the entrance!!

We had some fun trying to get the jumping shots. :)

We tried to line it up so it looked like I was holding the sword.
Here's our whole zone!!

Bunch of silly gooses! :)  We have an awesome zone.

Amy's May 6th email home!!  It's just a short one this time, but pictures are included!

 Hello my fabulous family!

It's going to be a short email this time, but I am still loving missionary work!! Today was our temple day, so that's why I'm writing today instead of yesterday. Sorry I didn't inform you about that last week. I love the temple!! It's always such a good recharger.

Janelle, my mom forwarded your question about the cooking to me. Yes, I get to cook some, but so far not very often. The church members feed us about 3-4 times a week, and we rotate cooking lunch in our apartment.

Time's up! But I love you all and I want you to know that I know this gospel is TRUE!! I love being a missionary and seeing people change. I love you all!!

Sister Harston

p.s. more pics! :)
My companion is so cute! I can put my chin on her head. :)

Me in front of the temple!

All the sisters that live in our apartment outside of the temple! I love these sisters!! From left to right: Me, Sister Codangos, Sister Paloma, and Sister Abonitalla

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Amy's April 28th email home!! Pictures that went along with this email are on the previous blog post. :)

Magandang hapon po!! (Good evening!)

I hope all the pics went through. I had a bunch that I wanted to send this time. It was great to hear from you all. Thank you for all the updates and all the news!! The Harston side is growing and growing!!! Thank you Dad and Steph for all the updates. Amazing. Grandma Harston has got to be just glowing with joy. So many grandkids! So many great-grandkids!! Wow. I love it. :) I am so blessed to have the best family in the world. :)

Mom, you had lots more questions, so I have a lot more answers! 
Yes, we washed clothes by hand, but guess what??? We just got a washing machine!!! Woohooo!! We're pretty excited. It's tiny and cute, but it makes washing a lot faster. We have a little back room downstairs where we hang the clothes. There are some wires strung back there. I'll have to send pics next week. As far as handwashing, we used tubs and buckets, where we would soak our clothes with soap. We have scrub brush and a couple of boards, but I find it easier just to use my hands. It's more effective, and I find it's gentler on the clothes. I've gotten to be a pro. ;)

No, we do not have an oven, just a stove. Our bathroom does not have a bathtub-that's only for the very rich (pretty uncommon), and not shower. We just have a bucket and a water scooper, and we take bucket showers. It can be cold, but it is very refreshing.

Yep, our apartment is buggy. :) We try to keep it under control, but the ants find everything very quickly. We have to store our food in the refrigerator and in sealed containers. We do have cockroaches, too. It's amazing how many cockroaches are here in the city. It is very normal to see cockroaches all over the streets at night. I've mostly just gotten used to it, but we try to keep them out of our apartment as much as possible. They are pretty gross. But we have spray and shoes, so we get rid of them pretty quickly. :)

The deaf man in the picture a couple of weeks ago, Lito, is still in our ward. When us sisters split the area, we stayed in the same ward. So I get to chat with him just about every week. He is desperate for conversation and is is very excited to be able to talk to someone. He knows ASL, but it's a bit different. There are times when I have to ask him to repeat or clarify a sign or two. No one else in the ward knows sign language, so he mostly just gestures with them, and they understand him for the most part. He's great.

I'm not sure about the humidity level, but I know it's high. :) It hasn't rained a whole lot, but we had a crazy random rainstorm the other day. It was clear in the morning, super windy and rainy, and then sunny again. I think that's pretty normal for here. We always have to be armed with our umbrella. If we don't use it for rain, we use it to shield the sun.

Christina, you sound like you are doing AMAZING over there! Keep up the hard work! Your grades are amazing! That Tech Core class sounds complicated, but like a lot of fun. I'm rooting for you for that Geometry grade! Sooo close!  And congrats for the Book of Mormon reading/praying challenge. That is SO awesome. The Book of Mormon has such great power, and I'm seeing it every day.

Grandma and Grandpa Elicker sound super busy!! What a lot of work! I would love to come help out, but...maybe next year. :) Know that I'd be there if I could!

This past week has been a great one. We had the opportunity to have a devotional given by a member of the Area Presidency, Elder Ardern, and his wife. I left the devotional feeling ready to step it up another level and do better! Super inspiring.

The Escueta family is doing great, especially Sister Escueta. She is really feeling the Spirit and has accepted a baptismal date of June 1! Another couple of new investigators came to church!! I love this gospel!! I am really seeing and feeling the changes in myself and in others as we focus on Jesus Christ and focus on bringing others to Him. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that the Bible and the Book of Mormon support each other, creating the fulness of the gospel. I am so grateful for this time to be a missionary for my Heavenly Father, and give him my all. I love my companion, I love the people here, and I love this gospel! I know it's true!! 

I love you all and pray for you.
Sister Harston
Lots and Lots of Pictures!!!

Amy's Apartment!

One of the Upstairs Study rooms

An upstairs CR (comfort room, or bathroom)
Kabahay! (All the sisters that live in the same house)
I made pasta salad! It was yummy, and the sisters were excited to try it. :) 

Quezon City South district!

Dinner at the Ugay's!

Halo halo! Yum!

Most places aren't like this, but this is one area we go to in order to reach some squatters. You'll have to ask Tyler about them. I don't know if he had any in his mission, but it's hard to believe people live like like that.

This is the way up and down to the squatters from this side of the street. The ladder is fairly new. Before we had to jump and climb. It made things fun. :)

My companion, Sister Paloma is so cute and small! She's awesome. :)

Amy's April 22nd email home!! Plus Pictures!

Hello again!
Mom, you asked if I could describe my living conditions. We live in an apartment a little out of the way of the major city, so it's not too noisy. I'll try to take a picture of it sometime. It's best to take pictures when there aren't any people around so we don't look like tourists, especially me as the American. We will try to find the best time to take them. :)  Our apartment is pretty big actually. The first floor is open, big enough for a couple of cars, but we use it wash our laundry. (Side note, we heard that we will be getting a laundry machine soon!! We're super excited! By the end of this year all the sister missionary apartments will have washing machines. We're so spoiled!!) We walk up some stairs to our front door, and walk into a big room. There we have our kitchen area, (counters, sink, refrigerator, and stove), our small table where we eat, and our beds off to the side. We have bunkbeds and all four of us sisters sleep there. We have our two separate study rooms upstairs, and an extra small room where we keep our clothes. There is a total of three usable bathrooms. We are truly spoiled. I now apply Off lotion every day and night, (mosquito lotion), because the mosquitoes really like me. I must have really sweet blood. :) We use electric fans at night, but often still wake up sweating. We are always sweating. It's above 100 degrees here now almost every day, but still beautiful! :)
You asked about exercise. I try to exercise at least 4 times a week. I would love to go jogging sometime, but our area isn't the best for it. The pollution here is thick, not the most ideal for jogging and breathing hard outside. But I often run up and down the stairs in the apartment, do jumping jacks, or jog in place. I use that exercise gadget that I bought before, too. Sometimes it's hard to motivate myself to exercise because it's so hot, but I am always grateful when I do.

I hope that answers your questions! :)

This week has been amazing. I don't have a whole lot of time this week to write, but I have to tell you missionary work is amazing!! I told you a little last week about our area. It's pretty big, and there haven't been that many investigators. Sister Paloma and I are basically starting over. We turned to our area book and found some former investigators. We decided to revisit some of them, and start opening our mouths to talk to as many people as the Lord put in our path. The thought of starting conversations with complete strangers has always been a struggle for me, especially in a language that I don't feel completely fluent in. But when you think about the real reason we're out here on our missions, and on this Earth, how can we not open our mouths? We have a message that will change people's lives, and it gives us purpose. We are literally Heavenly Father's children. We lived with Him before. He has a plan for us, and we have a purpose here on Earth. Jesus Christ is central to God's plan. He suffered and died for us to overcome physical and spiritual death. When we repent, we can become purified through Him. Our Heavenly Fatehr has given us a way to learn and grow, make choices, and establish families. Nothing in God's plan in temporary. We can be with our families forever, and we have a sure way to become firm and steadfast in this crazy world of shifting values. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to true happiness, and the way to eternal life. Christ's church has been restored to the earth through another prophet, Joseph Smith. Through him, Christ established His church on the earth again. God restored His authority again to the earth, and we have it today! The fullness of the gospel has been restored! Doesn't that just make you excited?? The Book of Mormon is something we can physically hold in our hands and read and pray about it. It was translated by Joseph Smith, and it is evidence that this gospel is true! All we have to do is read it and pray about it, and we will know if it's true or not. Heavenly Father always answers our prayers. love this gospel! It's so simple!  

We have met several people this week that have been prepared by the Lord. It's obvious. Missionary work is so wonderful! I love talking to the people. Sure, there are those who have no interest, but we are planting seeds. I don't want to miss any opportunities to share it with others. It's definitely a learning process, but it's fun. We've had some really awkward conversations, and some really amazing ones. :) It's amazing though when you realize how much help you can receive when you put your trust in the Lord. He really is my strength. When we are prepared, we are truly given the words that we shall say. All we have to do is open our ears and mouth.

I love you all, and hope you have a fantastic week! I'll do the same!

Sister Harston 

1. Our district! Someone said something funny, so we're all laughing.
2. Most of the sister missionaries in our zone! Lots of sisters!
3. Me, and a couple of members in our ward at the church! (My companion was taking the picture. Don't worry, she didn't leave me!) :)


Amy's April 15th email home!! Plus Pictures!

Hello again my wonderful family and friends!! 

So yes, transfers happened. We added one more sister to our apartment, Sister Codangos (now companions with Sister Abonitalla, and I am now officially companions with Sister Paloma. So we are continuing the second half of the 12 week training program for her. She is super magaling (skilled) though, so I feel like she's training me sometimes. I am super excited for this transfer though. It feels good to be in a twosome. Threesomes can be awesome, too, but they can also be very challenging. Sister Paloma and I have set some good goals, and we are very open with each other. Our area, New Manila and Galas, is a very challenging area. Last transfer we were combined with two other areas, so we had a lot of appointments. Right now we have two investigators in our areas, and neither of them are really progressing as well as we'd like. They have a hard time keeping commitments. Jessica, you mentioned some of the hardest times in your mission were when the people you loved so much stopped progressing because of their agency. You are so right. It is very sad and sometimes frustrating because we can see what a wonderful life they would have with the gospel in their lives and how much happier they would be, but they struggle to just take a small step of faith. We have a few less-actives in our area, but they aren't progressing very well, either. I feel like the past missionaries in this area were a bit relaxed and most of the less-actives see missionaries just as friends who they can relax and hang out with. We're trying to change the feeling of the area, so it's taking some patience, hard work, and prayers. This transfer is going to take a lot of faith and prayers and fasting. I know there are people here that are ready to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, we just have to find them. Heavenly Father is preparing His children to hear the gospel. We have come across several people already that said they'd be willing to listen to our message. Some are sincere, some are just being nice, and we get to put our trust in Heavenly Father to be guided to the truly sincere people. Yes, it's very hot and we're sweating tons every day, and often walk a ton, but the work is still beautiful and fun. We are missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the restored church with the fullness of the gospel here on the Earth! Sure, it's not easy to walk a long ways and then be punted, walk another long ways and then be punted again, but I'll take it and it is worth it because of the people we meet in between. There are no accidents. The Holy Ghost is real, and I am learning how to listen and follow His promptings. Heavenly Father loves each one of His children so much.

General Conference was amazing as usual. It is so amazing to listen to the Prophet of God and think, "His words are literally the words of God being spoken to us."  It's not just some person speaking, but it is Heavenly Father speaking through his holy prophets!! "  "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" (D&C 1:38). I love how incredibly clear Heavenly Father's instruction is to us. He is straightforward and there is no way of misunderstanding. God loves us and corrects us. He guides us and directs us. We are sooo blessed!! God doesn't change. His gospel doesn't change, but times do. We receive further instruction and protection from Him through His living prophets. I am so grateful for this gospel.

I am so grateful to be a missionary for Jesus Christ's church and to be His representative. It feels so amazing to be able to share my testimony with my brothers and sisters every day.   

I love you all and continue to pray for you.

Sister Harston
1. Us sisters at a Japanese restaurant, 'Zensho.'  The Ugay family took us sisters out to dinner for Sis. Ugay's bday! We are so spoiled/blessed.
2. Tatay Jun's baptism!!

Amy's April 8th email home!!

Hello my amazing family.

I am so blessed. Not only do I get to live here and serve here in the Philippines, teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and feel a great love for the people here, I also have an amazing supportive family over there in the US. I was so thrilled to see so many emails from you all. I have the best family in the world. I have to let you know you are all in my prayers every night. Jessica, I want to let you know you are included, too. :) And I'll definitely include your family, too. 

Thank you for all the wonderful pictures!! I have such a beautiful family! I haven't been gone that long, but everyone's looking so beautiful/handsome and all grown up! It looks like you had a blast this past weekend up at Grandma and Grandpa's house for the late Easter celebration. I especially loved the silly pic of Christina and Luke. It really shows their personalities. :)

So transfers are this week. We found out earlier this morning that none of us are transferring, but we'll be getting one more sister again! We'll be two separate areas again, so we won't have to juggle two separate areas now. That will be nice. We don't know who will be getting the new sister as a companion, but one of us will continue being companions with Sister Paloma and the other will get a new companion. This past week it has almost felt like we were two separate areas because we were able to go on splits many times! We had some very masipug (dilligent) ward members who were able to work with us. This past Sunday we had so many people want to work with us that we were able to split three ways and triple our work! The members are awesome.

This past week we had the baptism of Brother Mario (Jun) DeOcampo!! (I'll try to send some pics). He is just GLOWING with the spirit! He is so sincere, and so willing to do whatever the Lord asks of him. He had the biggest smile on his face!! It was a sweet experience. He feels so welcome and wants to share his newly found joy with others. A family in our ward invited their uncle to church this past Sunday who is not yet a member. Tatay Jun was so excited to see someone new at church. They immediately became friends, and Tatay Joshua, the new brother, felt very welcome. We've now taught him a couple of times, and he is very receptive. Yay!

I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We had Zone Training earlier this morning and watched a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the Provo MTC a while back. It was powerful. As missionaries, we are teachers of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We have been called of God through His living Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. 

General Conference will be broadcasted for us this coming Saturday and Sunday. I can't wait! From all your comments, it sounds like it was amazing. We are so blessed to have a modern day prophet to lead and guide us today through revelation, just as they did in old times. God does not change. He loves us and wants us to be able to return to His presence with our families. People and times change, but God does not. We need living prophets and apostles who hold the priesthood (or the authority to act in God's name) to guide our families in these trying and changing times. God knows what we need more than we do. He knows us individually. As we listen to the latter day prophets and apostles we can receive personal revelation for our lives! Their words are the words of God!! That is so amazing to me. God truly loves His children. This church is true!!  :)

I love you all so much and thank you for all your prayers, love, and support. I can't express my gratitude sufficiently. I love you all.

Sister Harston

Amy's April 2nd email home!!

Hello my wonderful family! 

I always love reading all the emails and hearing about how everyone is doing. I am so blessed! Mom, thank you for all the pics! I loved them! 

Christina, holy smokies stop growing up!! ;) You are so tall!! And so grown up looking already! Your face has matured in these past months. Gorgeous!! I had to brag and show the pics mom sent me to my comps. They said "Matankad siya!" (She's tall!) Haha. You're taller than me now! But more gorgeous than ever! I'm proud to call you my sister. :) Love ya!

It sounds like there's been a lot of fun going on over there. I'm glad you had some time to relax and enjoy for a bit. You definitely all deserve it. 

We got to go to the temple this morning! It was beautiful and a great boost. I love the temple.

Transfers are next week. One of us may transfer, or we may all stay. We may get another sister and become two companionships again, or we may stay a threesome. We'll see! 

This past Sunday was Easter! Because it was the 5th Sunday of the month, our bishop asked us to give talks and teach Sunday school. Sister Abonitalla and I each gave talks and then Sister Paloma led the Sunday school lesson. It was really fun preparing for the talk this past week. Bishop asked us to relate our talks to the Easter message and to missionary work. I chose to talk about "Discipleship" and what that meant. I used the general conference talk by Elder Holland called "The First Great Commandment," or something like that. We are blessed with so much! Christ atoned for our sins and died for us, overcoming spiritual death and physical death. Because of this, we can return to our Heavenly Father's presence if we do our part. We must have faith in him, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then endure to the end. That's it!  It is so incredibly simple, and so beautiful.  As mortal people, we make mistakes and sin. But we also know that "no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God." If there was no atonement made, we would be helpless and hopeless.there would be no way to return in our perfect Father's presence. But we can!! With our families, too! He is so merciful! With this kind of knowledge, how can we not share it with others? There are so many people that are ready to hear and accept the gospel. We can become true disciples, or followers of Christ by "Feed[ing His] sheep." 

Tatay Jun's baptism is this Saturday!! He is so excited and we are too!! His testimony is amazing. He is willing to do anything in order to become "in-line" with the teachings of Jesus Christ's gospel. He shared with us something this past week. He's 75 now and his neighbors have been teasing him a lot for listening to us "Mormon Sisters." He is confident and has not been afraid or ashamed to tell them, "I'm getting baptized on Saturday. I'm going to be a Mormon because I know it's true." Wow. He is so amazing. He is diligent in his reading of the Book of Mormon, and takes notes and underlines. He comes with questions to the lessons, and has recognized so many blessings in his life. I am learning so much from him. He's learning a ton, but I feel like I'm learning more from him than he's learning from us. He is amazing.

I love missionary work. It is definitely not easy, and Satan tries to tempt us a lot. He is active in trying to influence God's children away from the gospel, and works double time on the missionaries, too. But the work will go forward!! "No unhallowed hand can stop this work!" I am so grateful for this time to give my all to my Savior and my Heavenly Father. It can be so hard to give up your will for God's, but when we do, we are blessed sooo much!! I still have sooo much to learn. I am learning to trust in my Savior.

I love you all! You're in my prayers!

Sister Harston

pics: 1. Pic of us sisters at our zone activity last week! Ready for Volleyball!
             Sister Dickson, Sister Abonitalla, Sister Paloma, Me!

         2. pic of us sisters and Lito, the deaf man in our ward
         3. pic of our zone!

Amy's March 25th email home!!

Happy Easter from the Philippines!! 

It's amazing how quickly time flies out here. I think time must be faster here in the Philippines than it is over there in the US. It sure feels like it.

Before I forget--next week we have our temple day and the following week is transfers again, so I'll be writing a day later than usual those weeks as a heads up. 

Earlier, our zone had our zone activity! We went to a local chapel that had a court and played volleyball and ate some delicious food that we had all brought. We did it potluck style, with one or two companionships bringing rice while the rest of us brought different ulam. Sarap! We realized though that we forgot to bring plates and utensils, so we got creative. We used the lids of the different containers as plates and went Filipino style by eating with our hands! There is a specific art to eating with your hands-Tyler knows what I'm talking about. :) It was hot outside, but we had fun playing volleyball.

This past Saturday was the 171st Anniversary of the Relief Society Organization! Our ward had a special activity for all the relief society women in the ward, and had hilot (massage), and a couple of other small classes/workshops. Our relief society president asked if I could teach a class of basic sign language. It was a lot of fun!! Although the turnout was fairly small to the activity, they all seemed to enjoy themselves. I taught them the very basics and then taught them "Love One Another" in sign. 

We have been blessed to participate in a couple FHE's with a couple different families, and it's been a lot of fun. It's always the best when the whole family is there. We stuff as many people into the houses as we can. Fun stuff. :) It's a fantastic way to unite families. I would definitely encourage anyone to have FHE in their homes with their families each week, or at least as often as possible. But make it a priority! I have wonderful memories of when we would hold FHE in our home. They are memories I treasure, and I want that for these families. They are fun, sometimes silly, and spiritual. It is one way to help bond families together, and it's simple!

It sounds like you've had some wonderful times over there!! I'm glad to hear Mom and Jerry that you were able to take some time off work to have a little fun. You definitely deserve it. It's important to remember to take some time to slow down and to spend time with family, especially. Memories are being created! I am realizing more and more every day how very blessed I am with the family I have. I know we all have our problems, but I am sooo blessed!! Families are the key to Heavenly Father's gospel. It is the place where gospel principles are established, and where children learn to trust in Heavenly Father. When they are guided and raised in homes built on the gospel, they are much better prepared to face the world and to be on their own. We must teach our children to read and study the scriptures every day, pray every day, and to live the gospel to the best of their ability. They learn from our examples. As we go from house to house, we see all kinds of different rearing styles. When the children feel their parents and Heavenly Father's love for them and have the gospel in their lives, they are usually more well behaved. This gospel is amazing!

Mom, you mentioned how tracting would be difficult. Unfortunately we didn't have time to tract at all this past week, but hopefully we will be able to work with members and split to work in both areas. Then we'll be able to go tracting again. I actually have enjoyed the experiences that I've had so far. You said not to get discouraged if they reject us. I remember one of the wives of the MTC presidency spoke at a fireside. She was talking about always having a positive attitude and making the hard times into positive ones. One example she shared was about tracting. She said something like: "If you get a door slammed in your face, think, "Oh, what a nice little breeze!" and then move on!" I like that. President DeLaMare encouraged us this past week to look for the tender mercies in our life. I have noticed a lot of blessings in my life. I'd encourage everyone to do the same. :)

We are still working with Tatay Jun, and his baptism date is April 6! I love it whenever we go over there because he is soooo receptive. We went to his tiny humble home yesterday and planned to teach him about the 3 Kingdoms in the Plan of Salvation. After we had chatted a little bit, we asked him if he had read his reading assignment in the pamphlet about the 3 Kingdoms, and if he had any questions before we began our lesson. He said he had read the assignment and didn't have any questions but told us we could ask HIM questions!! Astig si Tatay! (Tatay is awesome!) He came super prepared and eager to have us test his knowledge. He had more questions as we taught, and we had a good discussion. He gets so excited when we teach him, and he's willing to do anything he needs to do in order to have the gospel in his life always. His faith is amazing, and he really understands the role of Christ's atonement in his life. I am learning so much from him and from his humility. 

Dad, thank you for the quote from Elder Nash's talk. I really like that-- "Live every moment on purpose." Thank you. And Mom, thank you for your quotes and scriptures. They are always what I need to hear. Your power of discernment is amazing! :) 

Christina, thank you for your billion smilie faces! Haha. They make me smile every time. If you didn't sign out with your name, I would definitely still know which email was yours. ;)  Love you silly goose. You sound like you had a bast this past week.

Brother and Sister Taylor, thank you for your sweet email. You are so right. I am finding out for myself that during the hardest times, I am learning the most--about myself, and about who my Heavenly Father wants me to be. 

Tyler--so you finally got a pic to Mom? ;P Ayos! Masaya talaga si Mom. haha, Sinabi niya na excited siya na nakatanggap ng picture mo. Paki salamat kay Jessica. ;) sa iyo din I suppose. haha.  Gwapo ka ba?  [Tyler's translation:  

So you finally got a pic to Mom? ;) Great! Mom's really happy. She said she was excited that got your picture. Tell Jessica thanks ;)...and yourself too I suppose. Haha. Are you handsome? (In the context meaning "Did you look handsome?")]

I am super excited to share the Easter message to the people here in the Philippines this week. It should be interesting for trackting because it is Holy week. Most people here are Catholic, so basically everyone is celebrating it. I am so grateful for the knowledge that our Savior Jesus Christ died for us, and that he was resurrected!! He lives!! Because of His resurrection, we have the opportunity to be resurrected and become like our Heavenly Father! We can live for eternity with our families. Everything points to our Savior. He is the only way. He is the truth and the light. When the world seems so dark and lonely, we can focus on Christ. We will feel a literal change in our hearts and in our minds as a lighter feeling enters. Just as a candle's small flame chases the darkness from a room, when we focus on the Savior our path is lighted, and the darkness fades. He is the way. When we follow Him and His teachings, the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can do anything. We can withstand anything that comes our way. He is our rock and our foundation. I pray that we can all remember Him, especially at this time of year, and remember that HE LIVES!!! 

All my love, 
Sister Harston

Amy's March 17th email home!

Hello my fantabulous, wonderful, lovely, amazing family and friends! :)

Thank you for all your emails, letter and support!! You all mean so much to me!! Last week they announced new rules for the mission, and we are being allowed additional time for emailing, and we are now allowed to email family, friends, fellow missionaries, and anyone else as long as they are not within our mission boundaries (except for former investigators--that's an ok now, too!) So I can receive and respond to email and written snail mail. 

To answer some questions....
I don't know the exact ratio of dollars to pesos, but it's about 41 pesos to every dollar I think. It depends on the brands, but things are usually a lot cheaper here, especially food. To give you an idea, when we go grocery shopping each week, I often buy cereal and or oatmeal, juice, milk, snacks, bread, and sometimes a few fruits (much cheaper in the fruit stands outside), and sometimes a few laundry items or things like that. I can usually buy that all for about 500 to 800 pesos. It seems like a lot at the time, but when you convert it to US dollars, it's super cheap.

People still are required to have licenses here in order to drive. :) I'm not sure the age though. Usually people learn to drive at an older age from what it seems like. I'd like to see the driving handbook, too. Not very many people have licenses here though. Only the families that are well off have a car, and then usually only the husband drives. There are a few women that drive, too, but from what I've observed, it's more common for the men.

Jerry, I'd love to come over there and help ya out with the weeding and harvesting, but...well... maybe next year or the year after that. ;) 

We are still a threesome, covering two areas, so we are still trying to juggle that. We go on splits with members as often as we can to cover more ground at once, so that helps. That happens usually about once or twice a week. Next transfer we should get another sister, but we don't know. Only God knows. President DeLaMare will receive revelation for the next transfer. Many things could happen. Two of us will stay for sure so we can lead the two areas. All of us could stay and just get one new sister, or one of us could be transferred and get two new sisters. The new sister(s) to the area could be sisters that are already in the field, they could be sisters who are in the middle of their 12 week training program, or they could be sisters who are completely new to the field. We'll see!! I'm excited to see what happens. But I'm not excited to maybe split from my companions! Even though it is often very difficult being a threesome, I have grown to love these sisters so much!! They are amazing. Our whole zone is amazing. It's very different this transfer than it was last transfer. Last transfer we had a very crazy group of missionaries, with it being the last area in their missions for many of them. I had a difficult time relating to them sometimes. But this transfer it's a totally new group. Most of our zone is training, so it's a completely different feel. The sisters are so sweet and the elders are super nice. There is a great spirit about the zone. 

We made a difficult decision this past week. Because we are covering two different areas this transfer, we are juggling the days and which area we will work in. The area where I was originally assigned in New Manila and Galas, we have very few investigators. We are mostly teaching less-active members, but they aren't progressing. We feel that most of the people think of the missionaries as just friends, and like having them over, but don't take the gospel seriously. We teach them, but they are not willing to commit to anything. I have come to love them each very much, but we made the difficult decision to not go to them for a while--give them some time and then we can go back to them when they are ready. But in the meantime, there are people out there who are ready to accept the gospel! We need to use our time more efficiently and teach to those who are ready. So we're basically starting fresh. That means...TRACKTING!! I hadn't been trackting before, so that was a new experience. You really feel like a missionary, ringing doorbells and talking to the people at their gates. (We went trackting in the more wealthier parts of the city this time.) We met some nice people, had some doors shut, and many people saying they were busy. No one actually let us in, but we   talked to a few people on the streets and got 3 people that said we could come back! It's definitely a learning experience, and I feel sad for the people who don't take the time to listen, especially when they won't even open the gate. We talked to a lot of peepholes. Even though we were tired at the end of the day, we felt energized and felt good about the work and about the people we had talked to. There is a time for everyone!! Heavenly Father loves each one of us.

We went on splits yesterday and attempted to contact some referrals from the previous day of trackting and a referral from the mission office. Sister Abonitalla and Sister Paloma worked in Cubao and Kamuning with a sister from the ward, and I worked in New Manila and Galas with three other members. We had a lot working with us yesterday! I love their enthusiasm and willingness to work with us. Unfortunately most of our appointments fell through or the people weren't there when we got there. I decided we would go try to find the house of the office referral. We pulled out the map and started walking! After asking a few people, we eventually found out our map was wrong, but we found the place with the help of some people along the street. Kelly. (our referral), is renting a room in a hotel, so we called her room from the front desk. As I spoke on the phone, I barely even noticed that she was speaking English. I responded to her questions in Tagalog, and she eventually said she'd come downstairs to meet us. She and her brother, Kevin met us downstairs and they only speak English!! Surprise! They are here from the US to study nursing and have about 2 years left to study before they return back. We were able to get to chat with them to get to know them and their expectations for us and we shared a small message with them. Kelly was especially receptive. Her brother was pretty quiet, but he  was receptive as well. The spirit was super strong, and we shared experiences and testified. 

We had our stake conference and had a special Area Broadcast this past week. The spirit is so strong!

Anyways, time is up. I wrote you a book, but there is so much going on here every day! I love this mission, and I love this gospel. I love the joy and peace it brings. Always look to Him! 

I love you all and pray for you often,
Sister Harston

Amy's March 10th email home! Plus Pictures!

Magandang gabi sa inyo! (hapon lang sa akin dito sa Philippines).
Translation: Good night to you! (afternoon for me here in the Philippines).

We are still covering two areas even though we are a threesome, so our area is very large. Next transfer we will probably get a forth companion and be back to the normal two-sets of companions, one companionship per area. We do our best to balance the areas and the people, but it's sometimes difficult to get everywhere we need to. We're having to prioritize, and we split when members are available to work with us. It's kind of scary to lead the discussions, but I know I can do it when I put my full trust in Heavenly Father. I still feel so stinkin' weak, but Heavenly Father is teaching me and helping me grow. I am learning so much from both of my companions every day. I often feel like I'm still in training, not the trainer! I am grateful for the scriptures, for the spirit, and for the power of prayer. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for this opportunity to serve Him by serving our brothers and sisters here in the Philippines.

Dad, you sound like you had a crazy, tiring, but fun week with the training! Go-cart racing, eh? Sounds like a blast. Sometimes the driving here in the Philippines reminds me of go-cart racing because it's so aggressive and crazy. The traffic rules here are merely suggestions. The lines are merely suggestions. If you're bigger, you win. If you want to make a left turn, you do, even if you drive on the wrong side of the road for a while first to get there faster. Now I know where Tyler got his crazy driving skills from. ;) Joke-lang. But the driving here is pretty different. I remember being in shock the first few days with the driving, but it just seems normal now.

Mom, yes, we do walk a lot here, but we also eat a lot here. The people are so generous and are ALWAYS feeding us. We can't say no, because that would be considered rude. If they are expecting us for a teaching appointment, they'll often prepare a full meal. If we stop by another time, they buy merienda, or snacks and soft drinks. I have never had so many soft drinks in my life. Haha. Even though we walk a lot, I actually have gained weight here. Not a ton, but enough that people don't always comment on how I'm "too skinny" now. I'm "normal" now. Everyone has such a big heart. Sharing is completely normal here. There is no "mine" and "yours," but "ours." It took a bit of getting used to at first, but now I love it. Even in our companionship. If someone has a snack, we offer some to our companions. It is a small thing, but it has really unified us.

Mom, you also asked about the money and how that works. We have a support visa card. We pull out our support once every 16 days. We pull out P4000 and it's plenty for the month. We have limited expenses- water and electric bills, food, travel. That just about covers it. We eat out only once or twice a week, and travel is fairly cheap. We take jeepneys if it's really far, but otherwise we just walk.

Jerry, you asked about how training is going. Sister Abonitalla and I switch off every other day with the training. Sister Paloma is so awesome! I often feel like I'm the trainee. She's teaching me so much!

We have our Zone Conference this Wednesday at the mission home, so I'll have to let you know how that goes. :)

I've been blessed to be able to play the piano for several different occasions. It is really stretching me to sight read and I have blotched a few times. I was asked to play for our last transfer meeting, and I've played at a baptism, a wedding, and now in sacrament once. I've also played a couple times when we have a meeting at the mission home or whatnot. Thank you mom for teaching me piano! I often make mistakes, but I'm glad for the knowledge that I have and hope to continue to have opportunities to use it. Another sister and I have talked about singing a duet for the next transfer meeting too, so that should be fun. She has a gorgeous soprano voice, and can sing alto, too. :)

One of our investigators, Tatay Jun is so awesome. I'm pretty sure I have written about him in previous emails. He's in his 70s and is soooo ready for the gospel. He has lots of questions, and when we teach him about different doctrines or principles that he didn't know about before, he applies it right then and there to his life. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom and he said that he drinks coffee and tea sometimes. But right then and there he said he would stop drinking those drinks because "if that's what God commands, I'll do it." He is so strong and has SUCH a strong desire to do what's right to the best of his ability. We are told to become as little children, submissive in all things...Tatay Jun is exactly like that. He is so humble. He is applying the gospel of Jesus Christ to his life and is changing. He is so happy and gets excited when we teach him. The spirit is always super strong. His baptism is going to be on April 6th!
When we teach Tatay Jun, his two granddaughters often join. The oldest is 9 years old and she often brings her friend who is also 9 years old. They are super sweet girls, and we have a sweet bond. Yesterday at church Tatay Jun came again! And the two girls came, too!! Tatay Jun's life is blessing the lives of others.

I love this gospel. I am so grateful for this opportunity to share it with others and bring families together. Families are forever. It's not just "till death do us part." There is more after this life. When we apply the principles of the gospel in our families, we become stronger and happier. Heavenly Father wants us to be happy in this life, and in the life to come, and the way to do that is to be with our families. I am so grateful for my wonderful family. Thank you for your examples of strength and faithfulness. I love you all!

All my love,
Sister Harston

 Amy's March 4th email home!

Hello my wonderful, beautiful family and friends! :)

This week has definitely been one of changes and adjustments. I went to the training meeting for the soon-to-be trainers last Tuesday morning and then transfers were on Wednesday! We had a bit of a surprise though. Instead of getting two new trainees, Sister Abonitalla and I are co-training! Sister Paloma, our trainee, is amazing! She's Filipino, and was pretty nervous when she first got here. She reminded me a lot of me actually. She already knows Tagalog, so that is a huge help, and she loves the gospel. She is 23 years old and was baptized with her family at age 16 by some missionaries. Her testimony is rock-solid, and she has already touched many lives here. I love her to death! She doesn't speak fluent English, but is learning, so she'll use it every once in a while. I rarely speak pure English in our home anymore unless I don't know how to say it any other way. I am still working on building my vocabulary, but I'm pretty good at Taglish. Tyler knows what I'm talking about. :) Just conjugate English words, and it's considered Tagalog! That works here in the city where people are more educated, but in the more rural parts it's deeper Tagalog.

Mom, you asked about the weather. It's been getting a lot hotter lately, but the evenings are often pleasant with cool breezes. It's still very humid, but I'm used to that now. I don't really remember what it feels like not to be humid. :)

Christina!! Mom told me you PASSED Stephanie in height???? Oh my goodness!! That means you passed ME!! I've told my companions how tall you were and how you were still growing. They've been amazed, especially when I tell them your age. My new companion, Sister Paloma is about 4'11," so I tower over her. You would tower over her, too!! Goodness girl! :)

Dad, you asked about my feet and about walking. Yes, we walk a LOT. Rain or shine, we are out walking. My feet have been ok. Every once in a while they'll hurt a little, but not bad at all and not very often.

Well, times up. But I love you all so much!! Thank you for your continual support and love. I am so blessed!! This gospel is true!!

Sister Harston