Sunday, 31 August 2014

Survivor: Cagayan

So after no time whatsoever to prepare for Exile Island, I was forced
on a bus, said my goodbyes to my beloved barkada and made the 9 hour
journey to the absolute middle of nowhere. I had an obscene amount of
luggage because instead of packing it I just decided to buy the worlds
hugest plastic bag and emptied my closet into it, still haven't had
time to unpack it so like true survivors, I've been living on the
small rationed luxury items I managed to find in the rubble. Got to
the bahay, no electricity, and no water, standard. So all day we were
up and down the so steep they should be illegal steps of our apartment
to pump water from the well so we could shower, eat and wash dishes.
Eventually it came back so now we can happily go back to showering out
of the massive garbage bin in the bathroom, but none of the taps work
so were still washing the dishes by pouring water out of an old cup of
two minute noodles. All in all, Cagayan means great times and I do
love it here. About a ten second walk from the house is the church,
and about another ten seconds past is the beach, so I've been dragging
my companion out for beach runs every morning which she seems to be
hating less now which is good! Haha.

This week was just getting to know the place and the people, and then
I realised that I basically already knew all the places and the
people. We had a meeting with the District President to discuss goals
and he talked to me as if I was the veteran here. What I really like
is everyone here is super motivated, the Zone Leaders are awesome, and
everyones stepping it up, there are different trainings happening for
all different leaders and there is a real focus on missionary work.
Blessed to be here for real!

Had interviews at the chapel on Saturday so while we were waiting we
watched the Primary Talent show. Talent shows are always awesome here
because Philippinos are obsessed with dancing and are all awesome at
it. The final act was a bunch of the 10 & 11 year old kids going a
very suggestive dance to a very inappropriate songs. I couldn't
believe everyone was just sitting there watching it happen, and then I
realised absolutely nobody understood the words. They then played the
song again over and over when the kids played musical chairs
afterwards. I had to leave the room.

And for the third mind blowing time, we were filling out records for
some investigators who are about to be baptised, when we asked when
the birthday was of the 9 year old daughter. '2006' they said. I
literally face palmed myself in the lesson before I realised what I
was doing. I couldn't believe I was saying this again. 'Your child is
not 9 years old, shes 8.' In Tagalog, siyempre. Everyones mind is
blown. At least she can still be baptised, thats the main thing! But
ever since then whenever somebody asks her how old she is I have to
try drag her away really fast. She tries to say 9 still but her
parents give her that look and she has to really disappointedly say 8.

P-day in Apparri today, which name you would recognise if you're a
true Survivor fan. After email we're going to squish into the worlds
smallest burger place and watch the Polynesian elders smash down a
burger challenge without even thinking, if they're still allowed to do
it. If they complete the challenge they get it for free, so a bunch of
them have been bannned.

Love you all,
Sister McKim

The flash on my camera is broken so the pictures are super dark!
Pictures are, my barkada in Santo Domingo. We had a forever flowing
fountain of YSA fellowshippers that often we had to turn people away
because we had too many people in our entourage. Almost all of them we
baptised or reactivated and now they're all preparing for missions!
My lovely companion Sister Mente having what we call a "Lehi's dream"
on the jeepney this morning.
And me at Dunkin Donuts. I literally couldn't believe my eyes, I've
never seen one in the city here let alone in the middle of nowhere
Cagayan. It was delicious.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

What to expect when you're expecting.

So in one of the most unexpected and faith promoting experiences this
week, we had a miracle baptism, and a baptism fall through. So this is
the story. We have been teaching a woman and her kids and they are all
doing amazing, but the husband has no religion and isn't too
interested in getting one so he hasn't been too good about making time
for us to teach him. Story of the mission, diba! He always takes them
to church and does his bit but just doesn't think its for him. We
thought we had a miracle breakthrough when for the first time ever
this week he actually stopped and talked to us. We were about to watch
the Restoration DVD while he was on his way to work, he looked at me
and was like, are we gonna watch that? I'm like jaw to the
floor.....uhh ok. Push play. He sat there for the whole movie, asking
every question about Joseph Smith and really just loving it. The
Spirit was there! It was amazing. Complete silence except for the
movie. At the end, I said were going to pray now and he just
goes.....nope. Jumps on his tricie and leaves. Siyang. So. No baptism
is without its dramas. We found out a couple days before that we
couldn't have the baptism on Saturday like we planned, and because of
the funeral and a bunch of other stuff on we had to push it to the
only available time - 7am before church. Nobody is loving that news
haha. So drama one over, we sit them down to fill out their records,
and some people just don't know their own details, so you have to get
the birth certificate out and check them for reals. Check the 8 year
old daughters. Me: 'Um, this says 2007. Shes only 7 years old.' Face
palm. The mum contested it, we all did the math, but yep, 7 years old.
Man. Drama two over, tell the kid she can't get baptised after all.
Super sad. Saturday we go visit them with AJ, our little miracle, who
we love so so much, and is the most active non-member there ever was.
It was supposed to be her baptism too but we had to push it back
because of a worthiness issue. As we were going home after the lesson,
I was just watching her face thinking about how disappointed she was
that she couldn't be baptised yet. This thought came to my mind, a
question that I should ask her, and I didn't know why, but the Spirit
was adamant that I ask. So I did. And she answered. And I realised -
AJ IS WORTHY! I get straight on the phone to President Barrientos,
told him the story, her whole story, how she was supposed to be
getting baptised in the morning but we thought she wasn't worth but
she is and she hasn't had her interview and can we interview her now.
Usually you really have to do the interview a week before, and here I
am the night before begging. But President understood, and he agreed,
and we got the Elders straight over. We told her and she freaked out,
then she was scared, and she was in shock. But she was ready. The next
morning we all arrive at the chapel at an obscene hour of the morning
and start setting up. Nobody even knew she was getting baptised so
when she walked out and the branch members saw her in white everyone
flipped out!! So happy. Her best friend was the one we had asked to do
the talk and she walked in more surprised than anyone! It was the best
feeling. And we waited and waited, and the others never showed up. We
sent someone to their house and they said that the husband of the
woman getting baptised had flipped out and changed his mind and said
he wouldn't support it. Super disappointing. But when we sat and
thought about it we realised, if her husband wasn't going to support
her, its not her time and its not for the best, no matter how bad she
wants to be baptised, but when the time is right she will. And the
whole baptism, it was AJ's baptism all along. She needed that random
7am Sunday morning baptism and if it hadn't worked out that way, she
wouldn't have been baptised. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but
looking back on the day, I think everything worked out the way its
supposed to, for now. Miracles.

So our dear pipi is pregnant. Pipi means can't hear or talk. But she
can do both a little bit, basically shes hilarious, we just make up
our own sign language and only people whol really love her can
understand her. Basically we found her one day, found out she was less
active and brought her back to church. She was doing so good, and then
we found out a little while ago that she got pregnant before we found
her, so it really truly is a whole part of the plan for her that she
came back so she can raise her baby in the gospel. We had to explain
to her about repentance, in made up sign language, but she is
absolutely amazing. I just love her so much, and everyone loves her so
much, and everyone just wants her to be ok! Its just true that there
are so many good people out there who just want to help people and
love people no matter what. I'm gonna miss her but I know the branch
is going to take care of her now!

This week we had our interviews with President, and anytime we get to
hear from President Barrientos is my favourite time. I have never
laughed so hard and felt the Spirit so strong, that man is the most
inspired man, its like he gets inspiration mid joke. I told him about
a dream I had where I was getting transferred and he just laughed.
Then afterwards in his training he said 'I'm not going to tell anyone
anything about transfers, you have to wait until Sunday night to know
if you're being transferred. Unless you've already had a dream that
you're being transferred, then you're definitely being transferred."
Face palm. Love President.

So I'm being transferred. And I'm going back to the jungle! I thought
I was going to the city for sure, everyone was getting my psyched for
hot showers and malls....and I'm going back to the middle of nowhere
haha. But its ok. The place is called Ballesteros, and the area I'm
serving in I already know everyone because I used to go on exchanges
there back in the day. So I already know what I'm expecting, so should
be good. It was Zion back in the day so hopefully theres still a few
non members out there for me to baptize, plus I'll be going on
exchanges in Sanchez Mira, with my old comp!  So all I can think about
is everything I need to buy in the next 3 hours before I get shipped
back out there but I know its going to be good, I know everything is

Love you all, I'll write you from the jungle again!
Work hard everyone.

Sister McKim

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Lord taketh away.

This week had one of those moments you never expect, but as a
missionary, always have to be prepared for. Thursday night we were
sitting out the back of the house, I was baking brownies for a
celebration the next day and Sister Roma was doing laundry when our
landlady who is a member came down to get the money for the bills. She
told us she was going to give it to her niece to pay their bills
instead because their electricity was about to be shut off for good.
Their mum, our landlady's sister has been in the hospital in Manila
for three months waiting for spinal surgery, which they couldn't
afford, so every day she waits in the hospital racking up their bills
and making it harder for them. The three teenage kids have stopped
going to school because they can't afford the fare to get there
anymore, so were over there all the time teaching them. Ones a recent
convert, one is less active and one isn't yet a member but is 17 and
pregnant. The landlady got a phone call, walked away and came back a
second later and just said, 'shes dead'. It was awful just watching
her process this as we sat there in our pajamas literally unable to do
anything for her. Then she got straight on her motorbike and went to
the funeral home. By the next afternoon the body was already home and
on display in their house. The branch put on a service at her house
yesterday as they always do, sung hymns and shared the plan of
salvation to everyone who doesn't know about it. Everyone kept it
together pretty well until after it finished someone got the guitar
out and started a massive sing-a-long of Ilocano songs. I didn't even
understand most of it except for the chorus which said over and over
'you're gone'. Everyone lost it.

I had this moment during the sacrament this week where I sat there and
looked at everyone in our area, and thought about all their problems
and their struggles that they've shared with us, and thought about all
the people who should have been there but don't go, and the people who
are having miracle changes in their lives for the good, and actually
just started crying. There are some people with some seriously deep
problems, and they're not the kind of problems that just go away. But
what I did think about, is how great is the grace of God, that He lets
us call ourselves the Saints, even though we are so imperfect and just
cause so much need to stress. And the way we can access that grace
more fully is by just being obedient to God's commandments. Its so
simple, just do it. Just do what He says and let him take away the sad
things and give you the blessings He wants you to have.

In happy news, a less active showed us how to make this little paper
boats, then we floated them down the sewer canal and had a race with
our entourage of people who follow us around. Mine won, but our
investigator got confused and thought it was hers, and then everyone
laughed at me because 'mine' came last and was the biggest fail of
them all. I said nothing. I leaned that day that I am better applying
charity which is good to know. We also found this disgusting eel in
the middle of nowhere and this girl in our branch picked it up and was
swinging it around. I can't get over how ugly its face is, I literally
still think about it all the time.

Transfer day next week, its probably me, even though I keep telling
Sister Roma its her. I don't want to leave, I feel like my work here
is still half done, but of course, I'll go where He wants me to go.

Love you all,
Just go on a mission! And if you can't, just go to the temple! What I
wouldn't give right now to be able to go inside the temple again!

Sister McKim

Monday, 11 August 2014


So first of all, we just came from the hairdressers. Haven't walked
into one for over a year now and regretting that I ever did. Was all
happy days for a while - chats chats with all of them, practiced
pageant questions with the most beautiful man who also happens to be
Miss Gay Philippines, and shared the pamphlets with all of them and
talked about the gospel. It was all going well until I actually saw my
hair, which was supposed to be a slightly darker blonde, but now its
the blackest of blacks. Witch black. Thats what I am now. I'm a witch.
Nobody is going to accept me into their homes now, I'm terrifying. So
I'll just have to hit the showers tonight and scrub for several hours.
At least the good thing that came out of it was I realised that I'm
nicer now. I did a little runway for them all and showed it off like I
loved it until I walked out and started to freak out. But its ok, in
the resurrection we're all going to be beautiful again, right?

Its ok, the church is still true.

Last Tuesday we went to an investigator who was supposed to be
baptised this Saturday just gone...and she was drunk. She told us how
she had just finished a religious debate with her friends where they
asked her who Jesus 12 apostles were and she said Joseph Smith. Even
she admitted afterwards that the closer you get to a good thing the
more Satan gets in the way. Shes still going to make it, we're just
giving her an extra month to figure it all out. She has a strong
testimony shes just working on her conversion, but when she gets there
shes going to be one of the strongest converts this branch has ever
seen. I just won't be here to see her get baptised. After we left, in
the pitch black and the pouring rain we were feeling really down for a
second, which isn't like us at all. All day Sister Roma had been
humming to herself hymns that she thought related to the lesson we
just had. She started humming Let Us All Press On and next minute we
threw our umbrellas aside and were belting it out on the deserted
streets. We arrived at the next house soaking wet but so happy. When
we got home we just talked about it rationally, and got all the
sadness out. Can't let things get you down hey, just gotta press on.

We finally cornered the a less active we've been trying to catch for a
while. He recently told us while he was drunk that he is hoping to be
married to his girlfriend and for her to be baptised so his baby can
grow up in the church. We finally got him to sit down again and
questioned him about his wedding. He said his problem was money. So we
told him all the reasons why money wasn't a problem for him, and he
still wouldn't budge. We knew there was something more. He said ask
his mum because he didn't want to talk about it. Turns out, when he
was born they sent one of the kids to the municipal office to register
him, and the kid decided his middle name was Ruth, and they named him
as female on his birth certificate, which is an obscene amount of
money for them to fix. That was one of the first times I've ever been
completely stumped as to what to say, I did not know the scripture
verse to go with that one. We decided we were going to have to find a
laywer to do it for free, and miraculously, we found one.

So yesterday our branch had a visiting teaching activity, after church
a bunch of people stayed behind and we all went on splits with the
members. Was so fun and super effective as the members know all the
less actives and they can help in ways we can't. They were able to
make more progress with some of them in 20 minutes of chatting that we
can make in weeks worth of lessons, because they just know the concern
and they can help them. AJ our investigator came along, did a good
chunk of the teaching, and knows everyone in the neighbourhood so she
knew things we didn't even know. It wasn't until after the activity
that they leaders in our group realised she hadn't even been baptised
yet. They made a huge deal about her afterwards in reporting and she
even teared up a little bit feeling the appreciation of the members.
Our sweet sweet AJ, shes gonna make it.

Got halfway through the transfer and still hadn't seen the zone yet,
until last Monday in the grocery store i spotted Elder Ramsay from a
mile away and RAN to him. I missed that kid! Had a conference and
caught up on all the chika chika. This is what I love so much about
the church. We arrive at the church for our meeting and theres a
Church Humanitarian Conference going on in the next room. Sister
Barrientos told us she is an assessor for disability, and if we see
anybody anywhere, member or not that needs a wheelchair or a walker,
just to tell her and the church will get them one. The church was
filled with nonmember disabled people receiving free help. It just
reminded me how amazing this church is and how we love everyone and
just want everyone to be happy. President was there for the conference
but he kept popping over to put in a few words in our meeting.
President Barrientos is literally the funniest person that ever lived
on the planet, somehow were all crying with laughter and feeling so
inspired at the same time. Love the mish.

And love you all, thats it for me.
It's also my birthday in 6 weeks, which is also about the right amount
of time needed to send a package. No connection there, just two simple

Sister McKim

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Gathering Israel- One soul at a time

I just wanna say, I just did a quick read over all the emails I just
received and there are so many miracles happening all over the place.
Nothing makes me happier on a Monday than to get on here and hear
about all my family and friends progressing well with their lives, and
all my friends on missions growing and changing and helping other to
do the same. As I studied in 1st Nephi this week (I think this week I
made it about 3 chapters, there is a rediculous amount of footnote
researching happening) its literally ALL about the gathering of
Israel. So, when thinking about it logically, the Book of Mormon was
written for our day, so basically all we need to do is be preparing
for the gathering of Israel, diba?? Thats what I think anyway.

So, long stories short.
We have been eating a rediculous amount of bamboo lately. All the
time. Because its free and you can just go pick it out of the ground,
people get some bamboo and suddenly they're super keen to feed the
missionaries. Nobody's complaining, it tastes way good. And avocados.
Oh man. Its avocado season and people have more than they can eat so
they're just constantly dropping bags and bags of them on our
doorstep. Couldn't be happier about that one!

This week was Ramadan so everyone had the day off work, and since our
branch is still on a high from all the amazing changes happening,
everyone went over to one of the struggling members houses to clean
it. They weren't there because one of the kids had typhoid, one had
dengue, one had bronchitis and the mum had the flu so they were at the
hospital, so the timing was perfect. The older son and his girlfriend
and baby were there and it was such a blessing for us. Hes kind of an
off the radar less active that nobody really visits, but last week we
ran into him when he was drunk and he told us his whole story, about
how their dad left them and ruined the family which led him to make
bad choices and now they have a baby. But he also told us they were
trying to save so next year they could get married at the church and
his wife could get baptised. So we decided we were going to make that
happen now. The members really reached out to them and took the time
to get to know them that day and it was such a miracle. Gonna make it
easier to get the whole process in the works.

One night we were walking from one appointment to another and we
walked past a part member family's house where we have recent
converts. There were a ton of people crowded outside the house and
someone told us that something bad had happened. We ran inside and the
mum of the family was on the floor barely breathing. We did everything
we could to help her and get her breathing normally again. After a
while I realised the only other adult that was there when we arrived
was her son, who immediately left when we got there. All the little
kids were crowded around her trying to calm her down and help her, as
in the little kids, 3-12 year olds, and not even one of the people
crowded outside the house even came in to see what happened. We called
everyone we could think of to come and nobody did. Eventually we got
the Elders over to bless her which made her feel better. Without doing
into details, she was the victim of some pretty bad domestic violence
by one of her own family members, who them stole every last bit of
money they had. They didn't even have money to buy milk for the baby
so they mixed him up a bottle of sugar and water. In the end we were
there for about 2 hours trying to get everything sorted out for them
as best as we could. We found out the next day that someone had told
all her family members that they thought she had died, and they still
didn't even come home to see. If you can't even trust your family,
man. At least she has the gospel.

This week was a week of seeing the Priesthood in action. And this was
a time where I think I most felt like a missionary, where we did so
much more than just sit down and teach. Everyone in our area seemed to
develop some serious problems and sicknesses this week so the Elders
basically followed us around giving blessings to everyone. One other
miracle that occured was in a family we have been wanting to teach for
a long time. The daughter is an investigator but the day we started
teaching her the dad went into hospital with a random sickness that
they still never figured out. After three weeks in the ICU and nearly
dying he finally came out on her 18th birthday so we went over to
celebrate. The moment we walked in someone came up to ask us if we
could get him a blessing. We still can't figure out who even told him
that missionaries could do that, but we didn't question we just got
the elders back over. It was super spiritual, the whole family and
extended family was there and the Elders were able to explain all
about the Priesthood and how they would need to use their faith.
Priesthood in action, its my favourite thing.

Loving my life as usual. Making sure I never forget to do the little
things to keep life hilarious. Now Sister Webb is gone I don't have
anyone who wants to listen to my out of control dreams during exercise
anymore so I started a dream journal. I'm super lame now haha. Last
night the Sisters were trying to figure out what they were going to do
for a talent show they're going to tonight and said they would do
whatever we told them if we helped them. We taught them a squirrel
dance and then made them squirrel outfits, this is me squirrel dancing
in the kitchen. Plus this week since we have to tramp through the
flooded streets on a daily basis, my foot got infected with the filthy
road water and swelled up like a golf ball. I couldn't wear shoes, and
I couldn't get it wet but I still wanted to work so the answer, these
delightful blue rain boots! Everyone was loving it, random people love
to comment on the boots, so I've been galavanting around the sugar
cane in the blue boots this week. Worlds best finding tool!

Love you all, work hard every day and never stop progressing.
Bad things will happen to those who stop progressing.

Love you,
Sister McKim