Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adventure of Sister Elsmore 66

Mandy Elsmore <mandy.elsmore@myldsmail.net>


Lets see...

Christmas was fun. SO MUCH FOOD! I'm pretty sure I gained like 5 kilos (10 ish lbs). O.o HA HA HA! But is was so worth it. Filipinos are SO good at cooking. And when they cook, they cook a LOT! So feasting all day, every appointment. And Filipinos don't take no for a answer when it comes to offering food. ^_-

Also, its been really nice to hear different gifts people would give to Christ for Christmas.

Food ^_^ (Nanay with Alzheimer  said this. Her Sister was like, "Jesus doesn't need food, he wants us to show our faith." Nanay... "Hmm... that too along with FOOD!!! Got to love the elderly. ^_-)
Going to church
Remembering him
Reading Scriptures more
Sharing the Gospel with Friends

Traditional things they do here for New Years:
Wear red with poka-dots
Wear zodiac bracelets which match with the year. 2014 will be the horse. MY YEAR! >_< Super lucky if you wear horse things next year.
Put up huge statures of horses in your home
Eat Tahoy (cant remember if this is what its called... get back to you on this), its like a Chinese rich cake dessert which you fry in eggs and brown sugar. Super good. 
Have lucky plants (lucky because they are REALLY hard to kill. ^_-)
Blast a million fire works. >_< (was walking and a couple a kids lit one RIGHT in front of their house which bounced straight up onto their roof. Luckily it went out right away. Figured that's another reason why everyone has tin roofs. ^_-) 

Slaying more Ipis:
I killed a cockroach in the middle of a lesson. It was just running around in front of us and a Total distraction, so I grabbed the nearest slipper and asked if it was ok if I used it to kill the beast and they said it was fine. SO I slapped that thing with a loud SLAP!!! It was twitching and we thought it was dead. But after the prayer, the cockroach started to make a run for it. The investigator, Joe, grabs the alcohol and doses it with it. Note for the future... Alcohol super effective in killing ipis. (roaches). Joe ,"Now we just light it on fire." HA HA HA! jk. :)

Helpful tip...for mosquitoes:
Put Vicks, Vaporub on it. It stops the iching and gives a cooling effect. Super awesome! 

Oh, last Saturday, both me and Sister Pope were home sick. We read through old letters together and had a good laugh and good food for thought from your spiritual insights. Thanks you all again for the letters and the support and laughs. Each and everyone of you are amazing and a inspiration! ^_^

Watched this last week the Mormon Messages on Daily Bread and Patterns of Light and it has been a inspiration to me. Made me understand the importance of little steps in life. Sometimes, even though we want to see the big picture, God just gives us a little taste or just enough knowledge and strength to move forward. Because we have agency. God has taught us correct principles and expects us to make our own choices. This life is all about walking by faith, not by sight. We are never alone though.
Makes me want to meditate on what at the little steps in life I need to take this next year. And little by little learn to work at to the ultimate goal of eternal life. I want to be better. I want to keep living, growing, loving life and the gospel. With little goals, I think I'll learn to have a better direction in my life and greater patience for results. ^_^ Sana (hopefully) ^_-

Hope you all have a great New Year and Gain Some good achievable goals that make you stretch and become more like Christ. ^_-

Love Y'all! Praying for Y'all!
Sister Elsmore 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Skype with family on Christmas 2013


Make this short because we will talk on Wednesday!
YAY! My companion want to skype at 10:00
so I'll just be on waiting whenever you are on. ^_-

Excited to chat with ya'll! 
Sister Mandy Elsmore

so we are at a members home going to skype.
So my companion is going to go first, be about 30- 1 hour.
Is that ok? Sorry! >~< Excited to talk to ya'll!

Sister Mandy

Adventures of Sister Elsmore 65

Mandy Elsmore <mandy.elsmore@myldsmail.net>

Maligayang Pasko! (no one ever really says it in Tagalog though. Just in songs.)

Hope you are all SUPER excited for the Christmas Season and preparations for it are going well. ^_^ We have already been enjoying the effects for Christmas. We had 2 Christmas Parties. 1 for the Branch and one with the Relief Society. SO MUCH FOOD!!! People have been asking me what my waist size is here. (which is really weird by the way) then when they find out, automatically want to feed me more... O.o? I'm ok with that. ^_-

Its been nice to share with people the Christmas Story in Luke 2 and watching Christmas Movies and talking about them. Amazing what the scriptures and a little technology can do to invite the spirit. ^_^

Sister Pope:
10 months on the Mission.
From Idaho, Went to BYU Idaho
Math Education Major
Super NICE! Little quiet at first, but once you get to know her she is quite the story teller. :) We are laughing a lot about the Mission, life, etc... ^_^ Fun to be with a American Again. ^_-
Word to describe her- Meek, something I'm striving to learn from her. ;)

True or False
Erik is one of my favorite investigators right now. ^_^ Actually, when I was here on exchanges and while back, I was with Sister Fakao'si (Sister Pope's trainee) when we contacted him. He was a referral of a member. Small world. Get to teach him now. :) Anyway, he has been wanting to find out whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. So he's been reading a chapter or 2 each day. His understanding of the scriptures is amazing also his hunger for the scriptures is real. 
"Sister, I know you only assigned one chapter, but is it ok if I kept on reading?"
Anyway, we came to teach him and he was like...
Erik, "Sisters, so I do you know the TV show for ADD?"

Me, "...ADD?...? O.o???

Sister Pope, " Ano yen? (what's that?)

Erik,"Ang Dating Daan" (its a church here in the Philippines)

Me and Pope, "Oh... :D" (Thought it was the disease)

Erik," So I was walking by this one house and it was going on. Then the pastor says that "Hindi totoo ang Simbahan ng Mormons dahil hindi totoo ang Aklat ni Mormon." (the church of Mormons is not true because the Book of Mormon is not true)
Pero (but), right after it said that, I thought of all the times I read the Book of Mormon and how I always felt good reading it. I felt peace and happiness and my thoughts were, No! The Book of Mormon is True. Then I realized I got my answer. ^_^ Totoo ang Aklat ni Mormon. (the book of mormon is true)

YAY!!!!! ^_^ It is always so edifying to see the progression of investigators and see them feeling the spirit and gaining a testimony for themselves. It strengthens my testimony. And no matter what opposition is out there, nothing can stop God and the Holy Ghost to a sincere individual willing to act on faith and the will of the Lord.  

After Gaining his testimony now, he came to Church for the 1st time this Sunday. :)

Best Christmas Gift Ever

Question and Answer:

What does Antipolo Mission mean?:

Antipolo is like saying I'm from Dallas, but I'm really to be more specific from Frisco because there are a lot of little cities right next to each other. All my previous areas are under 30 minutes away from me where I am now. HA HA HA! All under Antipolo City, or Rizal. I'll have to find a map and take a picture of it so ya'll can see. Or you can probably just google map it or something...

Of all the things you did to prepare for your mission, what was the best thing you did?  What do you wish you had done, or done better?

Good Question...
Pretty much I've learned that my whole life just living in the church has prepared me in coming for a mission. There are things that happen that I'm like, Wow, so glad I did that before. Totally needed that here right now. 

If you want One thing specifically that really helped me, that would be...
Reading the Book of Mormon and gaining my own testimony of it. I was never a scholar or knew a lot of scriptures by memory, but the small testimony that I had of it has lead me here. Its been my foundation for a lot of things. 

Thing I wish I'd done better. Practice the piano. HA HA HA!!! >_<

Anyway, I wrote ya'll another Novel. ^_- Hope you enjoy Christmas and feel the peace and love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through the Atonement this Christmas. Love each other. Serve one another. Say I love ya more (you if you don't want to say it like a Texan. ^_-)

Love Ya'll! Praying for Ya'll
Sister Elsmore

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another E mail from Sister Abonitalla

Jonah Alayon Abonitalla <jonah.abonitalla@myldsmail.net>

 Kumusta po!

Thank you very much for the package. Me and Sister Elsmore received our package last Thursday. I became excited of the Japanese treats inside. I'm grateful that I have Sister Elsmore beside me to translate the Japanese writings on the packet. I love the Hello Kitty coin purse especially the nativity stickers. Maraming Salamat po! Sister Elsmore is so lucky to have parents like you. You made my Christmas more happy and merry. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance.

With love, Sister Abonitalla

Adeventures of Sister Elsmore 64

Mandy Elsmore <mandy.elsmore@myldsmail.net>


Thanks for the pictures. Sister Abonitalla and I enjoyed them! ^_^ SO GREAT! Was surprised you sent my school pictures. Ainako! SO EMBARRASSING! You two never cease to amaze me. ^_-

Sounds good for Christmas Skype! Talk to ya'll on 25th my time. and 24th your time. ^_-

Let you know next P-day if things change. 

Oh, we got your packages. So much fun to see Sister Abonitalla's reactions to the candys. ^_^ he he he!!! So great! She deserves it. 

This week has been CRAZY with the Christmas Parties! We had our Christmas Conference and each Zone learned a Tagalog Christmas Song and did a skit. Cogeo Zone did "Kumukutikutitap" and our skit was Juanny Linggo. (Johnny Lingo as a Missionary in the Philippines.) The skit was really funny in practice, but everyone froze up onstage then... kinda palpaked (failed) HA HA HA!!! aw man! Oh well. President and Sister Revillo with the office elders and the APs also did a skit which was HILARIOUS! I would be... They stood in line all dressed up like different professions and one by one say what they were and acted it out, then the other characters would also start saying their same lines from earlier and acting and running around. President was a assassin with a Nerf gun and Sister Revillo was a pregnant woman. >_< BAH HA HA HA!!! Anyway... I'm not doing it justice... sorry...

We had the Ward Christmas party this week as well. The theme was Cowboys and Cowgirls. Why? I have NO idea. But it was fun. SO MANY PEOPLE CAME!!! Almost ALL our LESS ACTIVES AND INVESTIGATORS CAME except 2!!! YES!!!! >_< Plus the ward fellowshipped!!! Awesome!!! >_< Nothing like the Spirit of Christmas promote love and friendship. 

Sister Elsmore to the Rescue!
So on Sunday, Sister McCarthy my kabahay was supposed to give a talk; however, she got food poisoning from the Christmas Party the night before and we got to church late because of it. O.o Poor girl! While she was in the bathroom, they announced her name over the pulpit for her to speak. Everyone is looking around and wondering, Saan si McCarthy? (where is McCarthy). The bishop and his counselors are looking at Abonitalla and giving us the look like, What is going on? 
So I run up there and whisper that Sister McCarthy is in the Bathroom not feeling well, then ask if it would be ok that the last speaker be first. Bishop says she is the only speaker. 
Me,"... ANO!?! (what)
Bishop, "Nandito ang high council man natin," (the high council man is here)
Bishop, "Ah sige... Ikaw na lang Sister Elsmore magspeak." (oh ok... you'll just have to speak Sister Elsmore)
Me... sige po... (ok)
I walk down to grab my scriptures and the Second Counselor goes up and announces over the pulpit that Sister McCarthy is Sick in the bathroom so Sister Elsmore will be speaking for her. 
Ainako... Is this real life!!!! Did he really just announce that over the pulpit....
ok.. calm thyself Sister Elsmore...
I walk back up to the pulpit and say a quick prayer what to speak on. The thought come to share Luke 2. The Christmas Story. :) Talked about what gift we should give to Christ this Christmas, being its his birthday. 
Was a short, but sweet talk, but felt the words flow from me with the Spirit. Was a awesome experience if not random. ^_^

Anyway, love ya'll! Praying for ya'll!

Oh, almost forgot. I'm transferring. To San Isidro. (like 15 minutes away.) HA HA HA! My mission is the Antipolo Mission. I'm not going to be STL anymore, which will be nice to have a break. Sad to not serve the sisters and see them as often anymore, but I think it is time. :) My new companion will be Sister Pope. Super nice, meek Sister. Like her a lot!

Well got to run!
Sister Elsmore ^_^

Monday, December 9, 2013

Adventures of Sister Elsmore 63

Mandy Elsmore <mandy.elsmore@myldsmail.net>

Sounds Super Cold over there. O.o Thanks for the pictures. I've enjoyed them. :) Hope things warm up soon! Glad you all stocked up on your 72 hour kits recently. ^_^ I laughed about your scripture Dad about using prophets to warm up the place. HA HA HA! Hope it does not come to that. ^_-
Here is a weekly scripture from my Dad 
[D&C 133:26]
"and they who are in north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence."
"If it doesn't warm up soon, we may need the prophets over here to fix our ice problems."

So this week has been full of the miracles of the Lord! ^_^ Feel like finally seeing the fruits of our efforts. This Sunday we had a bunch of Less Actives and Investigators come to church. 
The Sacrament Meeting hall was almost filled. In Relief Society, we almost did not have enough room to put chairs in. ^_^ Also, people going up to them and fellow-shipping them. Going up, talking to them, sitting with them, helping them take care of their kids. The church was filled with the spirit of love and service. Also, we received a lot of awesome referrals. Just goes to show what a little love, encouragement, hard work, the gospel, and the spirit and a whole lot of prayer can do to change people. Great to be a missionary! ^_^

So, people are asking what I'm going to do when I get back home... Ok... Um, I'm just going to continue what I was doing before. Work, save, go back to school at BYU for Studio Art (maybe go for a Masters, but that is after a couple years...), live the gospel. Yup... in short, LIVE! Just live the way God would have me to live. With a little Sister Elsmore Flair. ^_- Which I think I'm a little bit more prepared to do because I understand myself better now, my weaknesses, and what I want to improve in my life. I don't have all the answers of what I'm EXACTLY going to do, but I have a little direction to my life and that is all I need right now. 

Anyway, right now, still need to focus on the work and the people hear. And keep enjoying the time where I can devote all my time and effort to the Lord in my protected bubble as a missionary. Feel like sometimes really, as missionaries we are COMPLETELY separated from the world. In the world, but not of the Lord at a higher level. Hope that makes sense... Kind-of hard to explain if you have not experienced it...

Patience is a Virtue (and a Christlike Attribute ^_^)
So for the past 5 weeks we have been teaching Vanessa Heart Pendon. Her family is returning less active family and she's SUPER ADORABLE! She will be baptized on Dec 28. She is super receptive and loves reading the pamphlets and the Book of Mormon. The only problem we had with her is that she would absolutely detest praying in public. SUPER SHY! She would pray with her family at night, but not around anyone else. We tried EVERYTHING!!! Trying to get her more willing to pray, teaching her about prayer, encouraging her, getting her friends to pray... Wala (nothing...)

We did the only other thing we could do. Pray. Everyday for her to gain a desire. Which she did! ^_^ On Saturday after teaching about Faith and Repentance we asked her to pray and she was like. Ok! Did not even bat an eye and prayed a sweet sincere prayer. SO HAPPY!!! ^_^ 

Really, no effort is wasted. Sometimes we have to be patient, do all that we can to share the gospel and help people in living it. Just trying is Success. Conversion is something between the individual and the Lord. We just provide the environment and the means for the Spirit to speak and work through us. ^_^ 

Inspiring Good Habits Though Art Projects

Been making little change banks from tin cans with plastic lids for people to learn how to save for palmasahe (money for travel) to go to church or for MariCris and Raffy save for their Marrage. Its been really effective! ^_^ 

Also, giving out the color in sheets for I read the Book of Mormon to people. They color in a box after they read a chapter of the Book of Mormon. They LOVE IT!!! ^_^ They are so proud to show off their sheets of paper every time we go to see them. Then tell us what happened in their reading. YES!!! The Book of Mormon is GREAT!!! >_<

Love Ya'll! Praying for Ya'll! 
Sister Elsmore

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adventures of Sister Elsmore 62

Mandy Elsmore <mandy.elsmore@myldsmail.net>

Kumusta Kayo!!! ^_^

Glad to hear you all had a good Thanksgiving 

Thanks for forwarding the letters from the Abano Family. ( you can read them in my blog: Sweet E-Mail from Filipino Friend to Sister Elsmore) Their letters have helped me a lot recently. As you were saying mom about Satan's influence being real is SO TRUE!!! O.o I have the same feeling here. Agency is a hard thing to deal with sometimes, but at the same time, I would not have it any other way. ^_-

Day of Thanks
Thanksgiving we bought Lechin (roasted chicken) and corn on the cob. Made mashed potatoes and rice (to Filopinoize the meal ^_-). We were on exchanges with the sisters in San Isidro and there are 2 houses over there with 8 sisters. So 10 of us all together having a Thanksgiving Feast. Had a good spirit of Thanksgiving. Super Grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord. Super Grateful for our family and friends. Super Grateful for each other. And Super Grateful for the little food that we had filled us up (miss calculated on the amount we needed to buy. HA HA HA). 

Ultimate Pictionary
Had Zones Conference. Yes, I meant to say Zones because now we have it with a 3rd of the mission. 4 zones combined for conference. Sister Abonitalla and I had a workshop on Using Time Wisely. We were the last workshop of the day. SO to refresh everyone up, we had everyone play Pictionary. HA HA HA!!!! President and Sister Revillo were the judges and we had 2 zones at a time competing against each other. The topics were things that are time wasters. Whichever Zone could guess all 12 things with the best time was the winner.  SO GREAT!!! Have not laughed that hard in a long while. BAH HA HA HA! Everyone was SUPER competitive. Especially President and Sister Revillo. ^_^ Then we all talked about ways we can improve using our time wisely by: 1) Setting Goals. 2) Planning 3) Being Accountable. 
Good workshop. I learned a lot about myself and have a better idea about what I want to improve on and how to do it. ^_^

Splits with Tacloban Missionaries

Sister Garcia
She is from Tacloban, so when the Storm hit, she had NO IDEA if her family was still alive, if they were ok. Nothing. She tried emailing, and calling them, but no response. Lines were down. No way she was able to contact them or vis versa. However, on the Wednesday After the storm, 5 days later, Her dad went to Cebu to get supplies for the members in his branch. He was able to call Sister Revillo and through her, contact his daughter. He told her, "Don't worry. We are all safe and doing well. Don't worry about us, just keep serving your misson and concentrate on the work. Because you are there, as a missionary, we are safe."
She is a amazing missionary who is truely dedicated to the work, not matter what happens. She wants to keep serving with all her heart, might, mind and strength. She has been a great example to me.:)

Cool about Elder Johnson. Sister Garcia says Hi! Also to SMILE (inside joke between them.) He served in her home ward or something. :) 
*Elder Johnson is a recent Return Missionary who was an AP (Assistant to mission President) in Tacloban City Mission happened to be from both of our parents are in the same Ward in Frisco Texas. I never met him but I heard about him through my parents. Check a blog about Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and you will find an article about how the AP of Tacloban Mission went out during the storm to help sister missionaries and people of Tacloban.

Elder Cameron Johnson is the elder with his hand in the air. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for Tacloban Philippines.

Sister Talatagod
She was in Samar when the storm hit. So the area she was in was not really affected at all. They also did not see much of the damage or the effects of the Storm; however, she still is going through the struggle and adjustment to a new mission. However; because of her strong testimony. She knows that God sent her here for a purpose, and whereever the Lord will have her be, she will serve. ^_^ Even if her heart aches to go back and help those in Tacloban.  

Until We Meet Again
Went on Exchanges in Masagana Again, my 1st Area. ^_^ Good to see old investigators and members. See how they have changed, for better or for worse. One of my favorite families, the Bautista Family, just had a loss. Brother's mother died on Friday. They were holding the funeral services when I came to visit. Nanay was one of the people I was blessed to be able to teach for a short time. We had a language barrior because she did not really know Tagalog all that well and neither did I at the time. But there was a sweet spirit in teaching her about very basic principles like prayer. :)

We talked, and I bore my testimony that we would see Nanay again. That right now, she's continuing learning about the gospel in the Spirit World without the burden of her sickly body or lack or sight and hearing. We are so blessed that we have the knowledge and hope of the plan of salvation. Also the atonement to comfort us in times of sorrow, loss, and separation. As her friend, and for her family, it inspires us to want to be better. So that one day, when we are all re-united, we can both be happy and look back and say, I did my best. And we can be together forever with God. 
The family is excited to prepare themselves to be worthy to go to the temple again so they can do Nanay's baptismal work after a year. ^_^

Love the Gospel,
Love the Work,
Learning and Loving Life with all that Comes.

Praying for all ya'll! Love ya'll!
Sister Elsmore

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweet E-mail from Filipino friends to Sister Elsmore

E mail #1 from
Brother Bong and Sister Maggie,

Hi Sister Elsmore!

Musta ka po? Daya mo naman hindi ka man lang nagpaalam..Anyway, we understand you Sister. We know you might dont want the kids not to feel better watching you leaving.
But they miss you so much Sister. We just hope they can move on easily. Actually, they are now always busy making some notes for you but they always edit it and make another one again and again when we told them they should make a better one..They are also more inclined in drawing anything with your name always on the mention.. You are really their inspiration. And they always pray for your safety.

They will send you notes once they perfected it..Hmm anyway, We have here there new photos, a week after your transfer.. Sayang di mo sila nakita in their Sunday's vest..Anyways, just hopin we can see each other again.

Be safe always Sister.

Bro. Bong and Sister Maggie

E mail #2 from
Brother Bong and Sister Maggie,

Dear Sister Elsmore,

Hi Sister! Wat's up? 
Hope you are doing good out there. 
Anyway, we have been sending you our message in your mylds email but failed. We do not why.

So if you received this message please reply back.

Thanks Sister and we hope that you are always safe and away from harm as you go on with your mission.

We love you Sister. The kids miss you so much.

Bro Bong and Sister Maggie

Respond Mail to 
Brother Bong and Sister Maggie,

I was checking the my daughter sister Elsmore's e-mail today and noticed that you are trying to reach her.  Please try her mission e mail address and hope it will work.

Thank you for your friendship!

Sister Yoriko Elsmore
Sister Mandy Elsmore's mom

Respond Mail From
Brother Bong and Sister Maggie,

Sister Yoriko,

Thank you so much for giving attention to our letters to Sister Mandy Elsmore. This simple gesture of yours reflects to the manner on how you have successfully raised up your daughter Sister Mandy in this world. It is of no wonder why Sister Mandy grew up sweet, caring and loving, because it is evident in you-she must have inherited it from you. 

As we chanced upon to have this exchanges with you, we would like to grab this opportunity to inform you that we are so grateful for your daughter's way of taking care of our family. She's indeed, a true missionary of the Lord. She had shown us in many wayson  how it is to become an active members of the Church. You had not been wronged in sending her in mission for we're pretty much sure she would touch more lives in the mission.

Thanks to you and Best regards to your family too!

Bro. Bong and Sister Maggie

Another E mail from Brother Bong ,

Sister Yoriko,

I would like to apologize for replying your message late. I'm kinda busy the past week because of the tremendous workloads I had with my work as a policeman and in my school.

I also had visited the blogsite of Sister Mandy right after I learned it from you and it was so great. I found inspiration on all that she has written there especially her mentioning of the baptism of my kids (andrei and geri). I and my wife with our kids are always visiting her blogs because they wanted to see Sister Mandy I just told them that they can do so only after her mission. 

As a father, I am so happy to see that my family is so active in the church and it is because of Sister Mandy. My kids love her so much and they miss her too.

They are relieved for the thought of they would see each other soon.

Thanks to you Sister Yoriko for your updates about her, at least I can share the story with my kids and they love to hear it. Their unending accounts of their memories with Sister Mandy is so intense which sometimes lasted even until they sleep..

Bye for now Sister.


Adventures of Sister Elsmore 61

Mandy Elsmore <mandy.elsmore@myldsmail.net>


So tired... ZzZZzzz (-_-).... But in good spirits. ^_^ Sometimes like that on the mission. Get so mentally, spiritually, and physically drained. But at the same time it feels so good to work and serve the Lord, the people of the Philippines, my companion, and the other sister missionaries. 

Had a zone activity today which started late and went over time (as most zone activities tend to be. HA HA HA) But they are always so fun. We separated into teams and made banners, chants, played shirades (how do you spell this word? O.o), and some balloon team game things which I have no idea what the names of them are. Sorry... Find those out from the ZL (zone leaders) tomorrow. 

Investigators are still doing good. Looks like they will be baptized in December and the beginning of January. YAY! 

Have not meet any of the Missionaries from Tacloban yet, but on Wednesday at our Zone Conference, we will probably meet a few. ^_^ Let ya'll know how that goes. 

I can't send photos of where I live right now for what our apartment looks like. Sorry. Its for our protection and protection of the mission. Be rest assured though, we are safe and our house is AWESOME! probably the best house that I've lived in here in the Philippines. ^_- Its 3 stories high, pretty new, and has a awesome view (which I think I sent a picture of a while ago. Check the blog. ^_^)

B-Lated Halloween...
Carved a watermelon with a ghost Tao po-ing (people here generally do not have door bells, so they yell Tao po which pretty much means People Here! respectfully though.) a persons house and the person is in shock. ^_^ My companion and other Filipinos are SO Excited! HA HA HA! Their first Jack o lantern. ^_^

Scripture thought:
2 Nephi 9:10 & 45
I really like the imagery and language used in this chapter. Is it not great that God has already prepared a way for us to fight off the Demons in our lives. Satan can NEVER win. No matter how hard he tries. We might feel darkness in our lives. We may struggle. We may even fall under his power, but as we cry unto the Lord in our struggles to shake off the chains of hell, somehow, we can always come out Be freed from our afflictions and recieve peace again. Becoming stronger than we were before. ^_^ The Lord will always be there for our salvation. It may not be right away, to our standards. We might be cut down a bit. But we become better than we were before because of it, if we follow what is prepared for us. 

Life is great for its ups and downs. Forever Thankful. ^_^

Hope Everyone has a Great Thanksgiving this week. I'll try to introduce my companion to this Holiday. ^_-

Love Ya'll! Praying For Ya'll! Grateful for your love and support from each of you. 
Sister Elsmore

Monday, November 18, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan, fear gave way to faith in a dramatic story of survival

Surviving the typhoon: 

Fear, faith and miracles 

for 10 LDS sister missionaries 

trapped in the Philippines

Updated: 1 hour ago

It was such a
 terrible thing we
 witnessed,but I
 learned so much 
about how people 
will come together 
to help others, 
expecting nothing 
in return. I saw that
 from other 
missionaries, and I 
saw that from 
the Philippine people. 
It's a lesson I hope
 I never forget.”

Amanda Smith, LDS missionary

EDITOR'S NOTE: Deseret News journalist Jesse Hyde and photojournalist Ravell Call are in the Philippines and will file dispatches throughout the week about the recovery efforts underway following Typhoon Haiyan.
MANILA, Philippines — The water was rising fast.
In the darkness of early morning, Amanda Smith moved away from the window to shield her face from the slashing rain. She had shut it just moments before to ward off the raging storm whipping through the palm trees outside.
But now the wind had ripped it open, and the wooden shutters were slamming violently against the wall again and again. Sister Smith, an LDS missionary from Elk Ridge, Utah, couldn’t see anything outside, but she could smell the sea, which seemed to be getting closer and closer. They had to get out of here.
She had heard about the storm three days before, from a driver of a pedicab. It was typhoon season, and tropical storms were common in the Philippines. Still, the last storm warning had produced nothing but blue skies. Some of the missionaries wondered if this time would be any different.
There were nine missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with her in the house, a two-story structure made of cement blocks. They were young women from Utah and Alaska and the Philippines, all about her own age, 19. They had done what they could to prepare, hastily assembling 72-hour kits, and had even bought candles and rope, just like their mission president had asked, even though no one in the house thought either would be necessary.
Now, as water roared down the streets toward them, Sister Smith realized no preparations were too small. The worst storm in generations had just hit landfall.
Bracing for the worst
More than 300 miles to the north, in an apartment in the capital of Manila, Elder Ian S. Ardern sat watching CNN. A former mission president with salt and pepper hair and an easy smile, he couldn’t help but feel a looming sense of dread about what was unfolding. On the screen, the typhoon churned, a monster on a path no one could stop. Winds would eventually reach 200 miles per hour.
As first counselor in the Philippine Area Presidency, Elder Ardern worried directly about the 675,000 LDS Church members living in the Philippines, particularly the thousands living in the eye of the storm in and around a city of 235,000 called Tacloban, as well as the entire population.
A native of New Zealand, he had seen his fair share of typhoons, and knew firsthand their destructive power. He hoped the members, and the young missionaries, had heeded the call to prepare.
Days before the storm hit, his office had been sending out warnings to the 21 mission presidents in the Philippines, with maps regularly updating and charting the course of the typhoon. Prepare emergency kits, they had advised. And get to a safe place, which for many members meant a chapel.
The area presidency had asked each of the mission presidents to call in when the storm subsided to report damages and the status of their missionaries. Elder Ardern watched the news as the sun began to rise over the Philippines and waited for the first phone call to come in. He braced for the worst.
Rising panic
Sister Smith had always wanted to be a missionary, ever since she was a little girl growing up in Minnesota, toting her scriptures to Primary, learning to play hymns like “I am a Child of God” on the piano. She’d put in her mission papers as soon as she turned 19.
She had been excited to go to the Philippines. But in some ways, she seemed too delicate for this place, with her long, willowy build and fine porcelain skin. The Philippines wasn’t exactly clean, and some things had taken getting used to — rice for every meal, the choking smell of exhaust on the clogged streets, cold showers from a bucket. But she had also fallen in love with the place — the sweet smell of mangos, the effervescence of the people, the way the language of Waray-Waray had started to roll off the tongue.
One day she sat down on a stool to teach a lesson in a dirt-floor shack and out of nowhere three fuzzy chicks materialized and walked around her legs, the way birds landed on Cinderella’s shoulder, and she thought: What is this magical place?
She had been out five months, her latest area called San Jose, where some of Tacloban’s richest and poorest residents live, some in nice apartments, others in shacks of bamboo and cardboard, a tarp stained by the smoke of cooking fires the only thing passing for a roof, roosters and stray dogs running at their feet.
San Jose sits right on the sea, and so a few days before the storm, just to be safe, the mission president’s assistants (two young men, elders who help the president) asked her and her companion to come farther inland, which is where she was now, with nine other sister missionaries, in a house quickly filling with a black, mucky water.
As the storm worsened, she could feel the house shaking, metal poles outside snapping, animals howling and squealing.
At first, the sisters had all gathered in one central room on the second floor, thinking it the safest place in the house. But the water was now rising to their knees. Metal bars covered every window, preventing an escape outside. With no other choice they would have to go to the first floor, where the water nearly reached the ceiling, and try to open the front door to get out.
They knew the current could pull them out into the ocean, but if they stayed where they were now, they would drown in what had essentially become a box of cement walls.
One by one the sisters slipped into the freezing water on the first floor. A few couldn’t swim; they held tight to their companions. Some of the women started to cry.
Sister Smith was scared too, but she was determined not to let it show. She wanted to stay calm for the others.
The front door was locked with a metal latch on the bottom and the top. One of the sisters dived under the water and unlocked the bottom latch; another reached the top and did the same. But when they tried to open the door it wouldn’t budge. The water pressing from the outside and inside had sealed it shut.
What had been ebbing as a low level panic reached hysteria for some of the sisters, who began weeping and sobbing. Sister Smith could feel the panic rising in her chest too, but she had to stay calm. With a few of the other sisters who had become leaders of the group, she started to sing hymns, their voices muted by the stinky water rising to their chins. They quoted scripture. They prayed. Sister Smith put on a brave face, not daring to say aloud what she was thinking:
“I never thought this is where my life would end.”
Finding survivors
As the storm subsided, the phone in Elder Ardern’s office started to ring. One by one, the presidents of the 21 missions in the Philippines called in, reporting that all their missionaries were safe and accounted for. Except for one. The president from the Tacloban mission never called.
As Elder Ardern waited, the phone rang. Parents from Idaho and Texas called in, frantic for news of their children. The wives of the area presidency took most of the calls, assuring parents that as soon as they had word they’d let them know the status of their missionary children.
More than 24 hours passed and the area presidency still hadn’t heard any word on the status of the 204 Tacloban missionaries. Elder Ardern was pacing when an email finally came in from the mission president. The 38 missionaries in the city of Tacloban were safe. He had negotiated with local government officials to send an email on the only functioning Internet portal in town. As soon as he found the rest of his missionaries he’d be in touch, he promised.
Cell service was still impossible, and would be for days, if not weeks. Elder Ardern was relieved, but also worried about the rest of the mission.
The area presidency dispatched every church employee in Cebu and Manila — security and building maintenance and church welfare and others — to go to Tacloban to search for members. They would travel the six hours from Cebu to Tacloban to count survivors, return to Cebu to find a working phone or Internet connection to make a report to church headquarters in Manila, and then head back out in to the wreckage to find more survivors and help.
In one Mormon congregation alone, 95 percent of the members saw their homes destroyed. Scores had lost family members, many carried out to sea with the current, never to return.
Praying for a miracle
The sister missionaries worked together. Sister Schaap punched a hole through an opening in a flimsy wall, and the group of 10 swam through the murky water that would soon carry their journals and clothes and pots and pans out to sea. Those who couldn’t swim clung tightly to their companions.
The sisters used the rope to reach a nearby roof. Sister Smith stood on the rain gutter, the other nine sister missionaries shivering beside her, the rain still coming down in sheets. Hours had passed since the beginning of the storm, and yet the sky above Tacloban was still gray, shrouded by fog.
Sister Smith said thoughts of dying left her mind. But some of the sisters appeared pale and their bodies were shaking. The water was still rising and they feared it would engulf them.
One of the sisters suggested they pray. They huddled closely together, bowed their heads, and with the rain dripping down their chins, asked God to make the water stop. And then, in what Sister Smith could only describe as the greatest miracle of her life, the sea stopped rising.
By the time Elder Ardern arrived in Tacloban four days after the storm, the water had receded, leaving a putrid scene of destruction in its wake. Bloated bodies lay exposed on the sides of the road, some covered by a blanket, or rusty corrugated roofing, others by a moldy piece of cardboard. The stench was sickening.
At one point, the city had tried to conduct a mass burial for 200, but had turned its trucks around when they heard gunfire.
The city had descended into chaos and lawlessness. Survivors of the typhoon had broken into stores that hadn’t been flattened to steal televisions and toys, food, even light fixtures, despite the fact that there was no electricity.
Hours after the storm, the president’s two assistants had made the walk from the mission home to the house where the sisters had been staying. The house was destroyed but they had to kick through the door to get inside. When they found no one, they feared the worse, a sense that only heightened when a neighbor told them they’d seen four sisters leaving for a nearby elementary school.
“There were supposed to be 10,” one of the elders said.
They found all 10 at a nearby elementary school, and soon learned the story of the escape from the house and the hours spent on the roof, praying for someone to find them.
With the sisters now accounted for, the assistants and other missionaries assigned to the mission office fanned out through the city, trying to find the rest of their mission force. A dense cloud cover prevented even satellite phones from working, meaning the missionaries had no way to communicate with missionaries serving in outlying areas.
But these missionaries, they said guided by the spirit and survival instincts, made their way to the mission home. Some walked for four hours. Others hitched a ride on a motorcycle, relying on the kindness of strangers unsure how to feed their own children. One group of missionaries cobbled together more than a thousand dollars and made their way to Tacloban by boat. All 204 missionaries were now accounted for.
The two assistants to the president, one from Dallas and the other from Fiji, stayed with the 10 sisters and others at the mission home, supporting each other, especially at night when gunshots rang out.
With their own food running low, the assistants, under the direction of their mission president, decided they had to make their way to the airport. So before dawn, four days after the storm but again in pouring rain, they headed out with their flashlights pointing the way through the darkness.
“It was the hardest thing,” said one of the assistants. “People had gotten so hungry they had begun to attack each other. The worst part was the smell, the stench of death.”
Some sisters, their feet blistered, could barely walk. The looting had become more severe, and the missionaries had heard rumors that prisoners at the jail, which had lost its electricity and its guards, had simply walked out. The assistants stood at the front and back of the long line of missionaries — dozens and dozens — as they made the long march to the airport.
As they walked, Elder Ardern tried to arrange a flight out. He had booked flights in Manila, but thousands of other survivors had mobbed the Tacloban airport. The ticket agent told him if he wanted a flight out, he’d have to pay more to get his 204 missionaries to safety.
As Elder Ardern tried other options, the missionaries milled about what was left of the airport terminal, its walls blasted out by the gale force winds of the storm. And then, a final miracle.
An Army sergeant with a C-130 airplane, assigned by the U.S. government to fly Americans out of the disaster area, said he had a feeling he should walk through the terminal one more time. As he did, he saw out of the corner of his eye what looked like the nametag of a Mormon missionary. The sergeant, a Mormon himself, asked if the missionary was American. When he said he was, the sergeant told him he could arrange flights out for all the Americans and foreigners in his C-130.
Before the day had ended, many of the missionaries Elder Ardern had come for were flying out of Tacloban. By week’s end, all of the missionaries in the area would be evacuated to Manila, where they would await a new assignment in other missions in the Philippines.
The Road Ahead
It’s a Saturday afternoon in Manila, a week after the storm, the air hot and sticky. Sister Amanda Smith and the nine other survivors are sitting on a bench on the well-manicured grounds of the Philippine Missionary Training Center, talking to a television crew from New York. Their story of survival and resistance will inspire millions, they are told.
Still, it is hard for most of them to talk about their experience, and the things they saw. They said night terrors awake them. And so, just as they did during the storm, they sing hymns and say quiet prayers, hoping for peace, and an ability to leave behind the terror of what they witnessed.
And yet, there is a part of them that wishes they could go back, to help those members and non-members alike, who are still stuck. They are comforted to know that the church has never stopped searching for those that are lost, and that in the coming weeks church officials, from Salt Lake and throughout the Philippines, will continue to push food and medical supplies, blankets and tents, into the areas most affected by the typhoon, to provide relief to Filipinos, whether they are Mormons or not, part of a rescue operation that includes dozens of non-governmental organziations (NGO's), faith groups and governments from around the world.
When the interview with the TV crew is over, Sister Smith and the other sisters hurry to a parking lot, where the missionaries evacuated from Tacloban are boarding vans that will take them to their new area. They hug and cry, bonded by a tragedy they never saw coming, but one they were surprisingly prepared for.
For many, their missions are just beginning.
“It was such a terrible thing we witnessed,” Sister Smith said. “But I learned so much about how people will come together to help others, expecting nothing in return. I saw that from other missionaries, and I saw that from the Philippine people. It’s a lesson I hope I never forget.”

Watch this and other stories about Typhoon Haiyan onKSL.com.
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