Monday, December 28, 2015

Oh My Goodness I Am SO GRATEFUL For Lights and Water

Hello everyone!!  

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! it was so fun to talk to you all! definitely the best part of christmas :).

the internet is PAINFULLY slow and is helping me learn patience. there is only one internet cafe open here in allen and the line to use it was LONG. we were planning to go to catarman, but there's only one place the missionaries know of there that is open as well. also long lines :). so we're just here in allen and had to wait.  the electricity has come back!!!  kinda :).  only in the very center here in allen which is luckily where we live, so we have power and water at nights!!  during the day it turns off. but oh my goodness i am SO GRATEFUL for lights and water.  haha we have life so easy. almost all of our area though still does not have power, and it might be a while till it's back.  so we still might have to come home every night by 6.  which is hard. but it is good. i think i told you but i'm not sure, but my first anak, sister  laniton, is our roommates!  and her new anak as well!  sister resolme,she is ADORABLE.  goodness i love these sisters.  so we're one big family here in allen, and it is SO fun, i love it :)  i have alllways been so blessed with companions and roommates and i love it. haha.   I'm sooo glad we are staying here in allen, even if it is kinda different than "normal" missionary work.  we still haven't got into teaching a whole  lot, since people are still busy with rebuilding and cleaning up and all of  that.  this coming week we are planning to really focus on finding and serving where ever we can.  we had a meeting with some of the members to talk about ideas for the new year, and they are all so excited and involved in missionary work, it is amazing!  and you can see the changes they're making in the branch as well.  our average sacrament in nov was 85, tapos in december average was 100!  the goal looking forward into 2016 is to maintain that and grow it even more :).  and one days soon become a ward! how exciting is this :).  i also have been thinking  of my goals for this year, and am still finalizing them. haha.  but it's pretty exciting :).  what a fun time of year :).  i'm grateful to be here on a mission and learning so so SO many things!  including setting goals, and patience!  definitely patience :). but i can't imagine where i would be at if i hadn't come on a mission.  it definitely, no doubt at all, was the right thing for me.  i'm so blessed :)  especially with my family!
ah i love you all :).  i'm so grateful for your example and your support and everything.  love you!

mom.... no flight plan yet :).  yeah!  maybe there's no flights and i'll stay longer??  :) joke lang mom :)

love you all :)

talk to you next week!

Sister Mortensen


Christmas Zone Conference.  Bri is on the right side, second row from front.

Tacloban Conference when Elder Ardern visited!
Bri is on the far left, second row from the front.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Phone Call

We were able to talk to Brianne on the phone on Christmas day.  It was our 4:00 p.m. and her day after Christmas at 7:00 a.m.  We only got cut off once!  It was so wonderful to be able to talk to her.  It was the best part of Christmas--and also talking to her brother Josh who is serving a mission in Kennewick Washington. Bri told us that she and her companion are able to stay in Allen, even though the power and water have not been restored since the typhoon.  She did say she is getting tired of carrying water up 3 flights of stairs.  She is loving her mission.  She is really excited to come home at the end of January but at the same time really sad to be leaving the people she loves.  We ended our phone call with a family prayer given by Brad.  The spirit was super strong and I hope Bri felt it all the way to the Philippines.

Christmas Phone Call with Brianne

Christmas Skype with Brianne's Brother Josh

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pictures From Sister Maurer

Sister Maurer posted a bunch of pictures from the mission Christmas Party.  We can see part of Bri in the first couple of pictures.  Looks like a lot of fun.  So thankful to President and Sister Maurer for helping these missionaries have a wonderful Christmas.







 
 








 

Monday, December 21, 2015

We Are Hoping And Praying We Get To Stay In Allen

Hello family!  

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!  it's finally here! haha i just emailed you a couple days ago, and then emailing now and will be TALKING to you in just a couple more days!! haha i think you are all gonna be sick of hearing from me :).  but i'm so excited to talk to you!! this is definitely what i am looking forward to most for christmas :)

This week has ended up being a pretty crazy week!  we taught literally zero lessons this week :). haha. been a little busy! after the storm and going to catarman and finally getting back to allen, we got all our apartment cleaned up and then helped clean up the church.  there is still more to do but it is looking MUCH better :). sunday we had a little time and went and visited some families in an area called ceramics. it's where we spend most of our time and is a bit poorer area.  many of the houses were damaged and a couple completely washed out. including one of the members.  There are usually so many kids running around that come and talk to us, but on sunday it was pretty quiet and lonely... seems like quite a few people have moved out for a little till they can rebuild.  but i have been literally amazed at how quick things are getting cleaned up.  it is going to take time to get the homes rebuilt again, but EVERYONE is helping out and the majority of the trees and trash and everything is cleaned up.  it's pretty amazing.  

we actually are not totally sure yet that we will be staying in allen.... but i'm guessing we will.  hoping and praying we will!  i don't want to leave.  electricity and water won't be back for probably another month. but it has been totally fine this last week living there.  if we do get to stay, we will probably be doing a lot of helping clean up and getting recovered.  the church has already given out 3 rounds of food to all the members, and the next batch of relief is going to go to helping rebuild houses that were damaged or destroyed. oh also, my first anak, sister laniton, is TRAINING! and she was supposed to be in ALLEN with us!!! how fun is that!  but we're not sure if they'll still be coming, even if we stay.  that might be a challenging start to your mission :).  but either way, i'm excited for her, she's gonna be a great nanay :).  

tomorrow is our christmas devotional, so that's when i'll get get the package you sent :).  thank you in advance!!  i'm excited :).  but mostly excited to talk to you all :).  love you all SO SO MUCH!  hope you have a WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS!!!

talk to you soon!

LOVE, Sister Mortensen


Damage From Typhoon From Behind The Chuch.  The church got all wet inside but no damage.

Looking out their back balcony

Sister Mortensen has to be home before dark every night now,
which means they are always home to watch the sunset :).


Looking out their apartment.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Keep Praying For Us And We'll Keep Praying For You - Sister Mortensen's Email After The Typhoon

Hello family!!

we finally get to email.  We're in calbayog right now.  but we are just fine.  thank you for your prayers.  we are doing just fine, have food and water, camera and journal, but sadly no card reader so i can't send any pictures.  don't worry about us mom:).  it was by far the strongest storm i've seen, but we were always safe and calm.  i'm glad to be able to email you FINALLY! haha. oh goodness, where to start :) sorry this is probably gonna be scattered!  sounds like you've heard, allen was hit by the typhoon pretty bad. The typhoon was by far the strongest i have seen, there is a LOT of damage.  We are just fine, the apartment is fine, it just got a little wet.  A couple of the windows lost panes of glass, so there was a lot of water coming in, but it was fine.  The members are all fine, but many of their homes are pretty damaged with missing rooms and walls, and everything soaked and scattered by the storm.  A couple homes were completely destroyed.  The church is just fine, and lots of people were able to evacuate to it.  tuesday morning when we woke up, we went out to check on everyone, and it was soo crazy how much damage there was.  it was hard to see, especially since there was not much we could do to help.  i think it is just going to take some time to recover.  power, water, and cell phone signal is all down, but the cell phone signal is back up most of the time already.  the rest, not yet. we are not sure how long it will be down, we've heard everything from 2 weeks to a couple months. after having our p day here in calbayog, we'll travel back to our areas and try to help clean up and whatever we can until monday, then when we'll travel to tacloban for p day and then our chrismas devotional on tuesday!  And then in tacloban i think they'll decide what to do with us for the rest of the cycle.  I really really REALLY hope we stay though.  We'll be fine even if the power and water isn't back.  we'll just buy drinking water, and there's a water pump just outside the apartment for laba and showers and anything else.  and we'll be carrying all that water up two flights of stairs, so we'll definitely be getting our exercise in :).   we think there will be plenty of food in allen, but we are going to bring some with us as we go home today.  throughout all of this though i really have not been scared or nervous at all.  I'm just worried about the members.  us missionaries are fine, we can just leave if we don't have food or water or whatever.  but they have to rebuild their homes and their lives here.  but even then, everyone is still so optimistic and just ready to move on.  No one was really upset or angry or anything like that, and even in the first couple hours tuesday morning after the storm stopped, there was a HUGE improvement already in cleaning up.  it was pretty amazing.  a good lesson for me in not procrastinating, but just getting to work right away haha :).  Everyone seemed to just accept what had happened and make the best of it.  so that's what me and my anak are trying to do as well i guess, is just go with whatever happens in the next week or so and be the best help we can.  so keep praying for us! and we'll keep praying for you as well. next monday i'll get to email again, so just a couple days more :).  love you all so much!  take care always!

love, sister mortensen


Note From Lauri:

Below is a copy of the email that Bri's mission companion, Sister Russon, sent to her parents after the typhoon.  It is shared here with permission.  (Thanks Shelly).  It gives a more complete detail of what they both went through.  Brad and I have decided that Bri is sheltering her parents from what really happened and how terrifying the storm really was.  We are so very thankful that these girls are ok.  We know that Heavenly Father protected his missionaries.  Thank you for all the extra prayers in her behalf and also for the people in the Philippines.


Letter From Sister Russon:

Hello Family!

Gosh I feel like I haven't talked to you forever! 

I cannot even believe everything that has happened in these last couple of days. I'm not even quite sure how to explain it. 

I guess I'll just throw it all out there! I was in the middle of a Category 3 Typhoon. This has been one of the most insane experience of my whole life. Mind you, Hurricane Katrina was this same category. There weren't nearly as many deaths though because there was no storm surge - when the water rises. That's what killed the majority of the people in Typhoon Yolanda. 

It is absolutely insane how little everyone knows about what's coming here when it comes to the weather. No one has any way of finding out for some reason! 6 in the morning on Monday is when we were told the storm would hit in it's strongest. At this time we were expecting a category 1. There was hard rain throughout the whole night so that it was hard to sleep because it was so loud but nothing too drastic. We got up, got ready for the day, but stayed in because the rain kept getting stronger. Finally the power went out and the water. We then got a text from the mission office that it was now supposed to be a category 2. Our phone died before the Category 3 text. 

We all should've been evacuated. 2 sisters in another area were. They're in Tacloban now and we don't know what they're doing. Thank heavens though because we're told their area got hit the worst. 

Anyways, the weather outside just got absolutely insane. You couldn't even see hardly a single thing outside because it was just gray with the rain. We are on the 3rd floor of a strong cement building right on the ocean. Because we're so high, we didn't think we'd have to worry about flooding. We were mighty wrong haha. Many pieces of glass are missing from our windows so there was a lot of water coming in...everywhere! The room that was the worst we figured out how to cover by cutting off the cover of a plasic binder and belting it to the bars on the window. This covered about a 6 x 6 opening in the wall and you will not believe how much water we stopped from coming in in just that little space. The wind was so intense that I had to throw all my weight against the small binder cover, while Sister Mortensen belted it down. We are such a team. Our roommates left the night before to go home, they finished their missions! - so we were the only ones in the apartment. 

Next, in the same room with the window, water up to my ankles was just coming in everywhere. We couldn't figure out for the life of us where it was coming in and we needed to figure it out because it kept rising. We'd stop for a minute and test some different stuff, and then use the two dust pans we had to scoop up the water, put it in a bucket, and scoot it to the bathroom where there's a drain. Everything was soaked. We were soaked. Somehow there was just water flying around the air all around us and everything was just wet. Plus it was super loud. We were screaming at each other above the noise of the rain so we could hear. Finally, we both paused and said a prayer that we could figure out where the water was coming from and that everyone would be okay. 

While my companion was fixing something in another room, I realized that the water was coming up through the door - the balcony door - which balcony was on the same side of the apartment as the ocean and the direction the storm was coming from. With all of our strength we pushed the door open against the wind and saw that the balcony drain had been covered by something and the balcony was full of several feet of water and coming in through the door. Sister Mortensen bravely went out and tried to undo the drain while I held the door open. This was not an easy task at all. I have never been in this strong of a storm in all my life. I'm honestly no doubt completely amazed one of us didn't fly off the balcony. The rain felt like it was cutting into your skin it hurt so bad.

For the next couple hours we scooped water and went back out a couple of times to move leaves off of the drain. Once we got that situation figured out, we were able to relax a little bit. The apartment was a complete muddy wet mess. People came in earlier from outside to stay in the attic room above us so we checked on them and the people below us to see if they were okay. They were in and out of our apartment all night for food and the bathroom. It was nice to have someone specific to focus on helping because there was only so much we could do with the water situation. 

We finally ate dinner and tried to get some sleep. Our beds were wet. My clothes were all soaked because I had done laundry the night before and the humidity from the storm was just not getting them anywhere near dry. So that was a super fun night:) 

The next morning, Tuesday we wake up, decide to throw on a t shirt and shorts and go check on all the members. Oh my gosh, everything was just a complete disaster. It doesn't even feel real still. It felt like a movie. We walked around to check on everyone and most peoples houses are destroyed, if not completely gone. Trees were broken everywhere and ripped out. Broken glass and garbage and tree trunks and pieces of houses and clothes were all over the streets. We found out all the members were okay. No one we know was injured at all and we only know of a few deaths out of everywhere the storm hit. Helecopters were in the air flying to Catarman where they were going to deliver out the relief, and soldiers were all over  the place helping clear the roads. It was absolutely insane! 

Everyone immediately got back to work starting to fix their houses. These Filipinos can really get stuff done when they need to. We went to the church where we found out over 100 people took refuge and we brought them a lot of food. Then we just walked around and talked to people and tried to help in anyway we could. Technically we were breaking rules by doing that because after a typhoon, you're supposed to stay in your apartment until your leaders come. Around 3 we tried to buy food because we didn't know how long we were going to be here and then decided to return home to see if the District Leader would come. Let me just tell you, it's a very eery thing realizing how little your money is worth in situations like that because the only thing that's valuable is food and shelter. Most every food place closed down, probably saving the food for their families. Some places were open so we were okay, just hoping those places don't get robbed. 

We were in the apartment the rest of the day trying to clean up. The District leader didn't get to our house until 9 that night, in which he told us to pack a bag because we were going to Catarman straight in the morning. 

Catarman was supposed to be where the eye of the storm was, but it's also the emergency evacuation spot for our zone. Yesterday, we got there and saw all the other missionaries in the zone had gotten there too. The damage was pretty bad. Overall, I'd say our area was somewhat worse because we have a lot more poor people in our area. Less houses made of cement and more made of bamboo and garbage bags and wood and cardboard.  

We didn't have electricity or a phone signal, so we were hoping someone would come. The stake president in the area left to Calbayog to call the mission president and told us he would be back by 12. We just hung out in the church building all day with the rest of the zone but he never came back. Finally around 4, the zone leaders decided to go to Calbayog and call the president themselves. They went and found out the stake president had some sort of emergency come up. So they called president and got back to the church around 9:30 at night with news for us. 

We don't really know what's going on. We're all going back to our areas tonight and staying there until we drive to Tacloban on Monday for the Multi zone Christmas Devoltional we were already going to go to. We're just supposed to help the members as much as we can until then. I don't think we're going to be teaching the gospel much, there's too much else to do. 

At first it wasn't really a question if we were staying in our areas. Most every telephone line has been ripped right out of the ground, so no electricity for probably a month, no running water - though we do have a filter and access to a well. We thought for sure we were going to be transferred out to other areas. But today we found out we might stay because the last time they moved all the misisonaries out of an area because of a storm, the members felt like they were being abandoned and it caused some problems. The president will have to decide what to do these next couple of days and let us know when we get to Tacloban. 

Until then, we're okay! We have enough food, and emergency lights, and supplies we need. 

This whole thing is just a mess. Completely crazy. My companion keeps telling me how amazed she was with my behavior during the whole thing because a lot of the new missionaries were freaking out. I just cant believe something this crazy has happened so soon on my mission. I will keep you updated as soon as I can!

Parentals - please get a world wide calling card. If I'm in Allen over Christmas, the chances of skyping are slim. So I can just email you my phone number and you can call me. In case skype does work however, you might want to set  up an account so we can try that:)

I miss you all tons! Love hearing from you! Don't worry about a thing. These last few days have been crazy but all is well in the world and I'm totally safe and sound. 

Also, please don't worry about sending packages. They're way too expensive and I can do without. Also, the whole pumpkin bread thing was a joke. Don't send that because ovens are nonexistent here:)\


Love you all to pieces!

Talk to you soon!

Sister Russon

P.S. I'm in Calbayog right now, that's how I'm emailing, so I don't have my camera with me. I promise I'll send pics when I can!


Note From Lauri:

Neither Sister Mortensen or Sister Russon were able to send pictures home, but I found some on facebook. Wow...I can't believe the amount of destruction.  Once again, I am so very thankful to Heavenly Father for keeping these two sweet missionaries safe during a terrifying time.



















Typhoon Update

Quick update: we have been in contact with all Catarman missionaries and they are all doing good. Currently staying in the chapel where they have running water and power thru a generator. They have also been given the option today to travel down to Calbayog (about 2hours) to do emails home. So you may get a surprise email. We are considering options on whether to move them out to other areas until full power is established (could be anything from 1 week to 2 months). We will know more in the coming days. They do have access to water thru community pumps for washing and there are places for them to purchase bottled water for drinking. Next week they will be coming down to Tacloban for Zone Christmas Conference, so by then a full, longer term, plan will be in place. Right now they are finding opportunities to help in clean up and service. We love them and understand and appreciate their strength at this difficult time for all in Northern Samar.   --Sister Maurer

Monday, December 14, 2015

Typhoon Melor

On Sunday night (our time) and early Monday morning (Philippine time) Typhoon Melor (local name is Nona) passed through the Philippines.  Brad and I watched the broadcasts carefully all day Sunday to see where the path was projected to go. Sunday afternoon, the maps showed that the typhoon would pass directly over Bri's area. (In the picture below she is on the island directly below the second red dot on the right side).


Later that evening, I sent a Facebook message to Sister Maurer, the mission presidents wife, to help ease my worried mind.  Sister Maurer messaged me back around midnight saying that she has been chatting with Bri over text and she said that "they are safe and dry.  The wind is pretty strong but they are ok."  I was so happy to hear that.  Still worried, but happy to know all is well.

Today, Monday around 4:30 p.m. we got this message from Sister Maurer:

As you may be aware we have just experienced a typhoon thru parts of our mission. All is well...However as a result of the strong winds power has been cut to some parts of our mission. Mostly to areas on Samar island - Catarman, Catbalogan and Borongan Zones. We have been in contact with all those zones thru phone and have confirmation that your missionaries are safe. But just wanted to let you know that many families may not get an email this week because of these power cuts.

Brianne is in the Catarman Zone.  So most likely we won't be hearing from her this week.  I'm sure she could use a few extra prayers sent her way.  

Here is a picture of the eye of the storm at 7:00 p.m. last night.  The island that it is approaching is Samar.  Bri is in Allen, which is in the top left corner of Samar.  The eye of the storm moved almost directly west across the top of Samar and passed almost directly over Allen.  The region she is in was one of the hardest hit areas.  Winds were reported at nearly 130 mph, gusting to around 160 mph.



We are anxiously waiting to hear from Bri, but know that all will be all right.  We are thankful for a mission president and his wife who are taking care of their missionaries.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

I Know That Our Father In Heaven Loves Us And That We Know Enough To Follow Him

hello family

oh my goodness what a wonderful week you all have had :).  thank you so much for your wonderful letters always.  I think there's something special about december and getting ready for christmas where the spirit is just that much more present in our lives.  what a wonderful time of year :). 

I am so glad to hear that grandma and grandpa are alright.  i will be sure to keep them both in my prayers so that they can get fully recovered quickly.  love you grandma and grandpa!! :)

i can't believe that you met sister carinote!!!  Her name is renalyn, and is one of the SWEETEST girls and such a strong testimony.  I'm so glad you got to meet her.  i think i will definitely be making a trip to temple square :)  

At Temple Square Meeting Sister Carinote!

This week we've been focusing on visiting members, especially less active.  Yesterday I was talking to our branch mission leaders and he said how important it is to strengthen the members.  Especially in visiting the less active members.  Even if we visit them and they don't come to church, at least they're getting regular visits and getting that spiritual message.  Hopefully they can feel our love and the Savior's love for them, especially during this time of the year.  It helped me realize that we are not just visiting people to get them to come to church or anything else, but to come closer to the Savior.  So even if the people we visit don't come to church or keep other commitments always, as long as we are helping them to come unto Christ, it is part of our purpose here as well.  Even being here this long so far on the mission, I'm still learning more about what my purpose really is.  And all other aspects of the gospel as well.  There is so much more to learn!  i don't think i've ever really understood just how much i really don't know about the gospel.  But at the same time, i know enough :).  I know that it's true!  all of it, even if i don't understand it all.  I know that our Father in Heaven loves us, and that we know enough to follow Him :).  and as we pray and search and ask, He will teach us line by line :)

Later today we are going to contact a potential investigator!  she's the mom of one of the CUTEST little girls named M-- that always comes and talks to us every day.  she's 2 but is very talkative and just so energetic haha.  she always says "go to my mom!" and so a couple days ago we were punted and her mom was sitting there, so we talked to her.  She is very friendly and said we could come visit today!  another example of why we need to talk to everyone, even the two year olds!  I'll let you know what happens next week :)

for jaxsens eagle project, just english for the scriptures and pmg :).  mini would probably be better, but either way is fine.  are you thinking to do something like that then?  i'm so excited for this!!  they just had a dentist/doctor thing, like the larsens did, a couple weeks ago.  maybe there will be another when we go back? that would be perfect... 

ah love the pictures!  those are some of my favorite times, the nativity and temple square.  studying for finals... not so much :).  but good luck to you two!!  

love you all so much :).  hope you continue to have some wonderful spiritual experiences and enjoy this season.  I am so grateful for our Savior and for the knowledge we have of Him :).  love you!!!  talk to you next week :)

Sister Mortensen

Cataman Zone

Sister Fusson, ?, Sister Mortensen
 



Monday, November 30, 2015

I'm Grateful For My Wonderful Companion And Roommates But Mostly I'm Grateful For The Gospel And For My Wonderful Family

Hello my favorite family!  

I'm glad to hear you had  a wonderful thanksgiving!  glad to see nothing has changed TOO much and thanksgiving is still spending time with lots of family, skeet shooting, and soccer :).  that's fun ali you got to be goalie again! and those are some great pictures, looks like you had a great time. speaking of pictures.... i forgot my camera at the apartment.  hahaha sorry :)

this week we went to an ISLAND called San Antonio.  it is SO BEAUTIFUL there, white sand and the bluest water i've ever seen!  so beautiful. missionaries have been going there once a month for maybe about a year now and we're trying to introduce the gospel there :).  is a 30 minute boat ride away, so it would be kinda difficult for them to come to church, but the hope is to get a special sacrament started and a meeting house over there, and one day have missionaries assigned there.  the people there are sooo friendly and just welcoming and it was great to spend some time with them sharing the gospel.  we taught one sister whose family was SO religious and looking for the true church.  she and all her siblings had joined many different churches and were still looking :).  haha kinda reminded me of joseph smiths family was the first thing that came to mind.  But it's families and people like this that are PREPARED telaga to receive the gospel. sadly we wont be able to go back to this family any time soon but we left them some pamphlets and invited them to church, and maybe one day they'll remember and find the church.

That was actually on thanksgiving that we went to the island :).  we went in the morning so we could catch a boat home :) and then came back and did studies that evening, and made thanksgiving dinner!  My anak is a wonderful cook :).  we made mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, chicken, and apple cobbler!  Not quite the same as back home, but it was pretty american and pretty delicious considering we're in the philippines haha.  it was wonderful :).  haha i'm grateful for a little bit of america sometimes :)  i'm grateful for my wonderful companion and roommates!  but mostly, i'm grateful for the gospel and for my wonderful family!  I am so so SO very blessed :)

This week we had exchanges with our STL's!  And I was able to be companions with Sister Culangan again, my previous companion! Goodness she is such a wonderful missionaries, :).  She is so humble and she has become an even stronger than ever missionary since I've been with her.  It's pretty amazing how much the gospel will change us if we will strive to live it.  I've definitely seen that in my own mission, and that gives me hope for the rest of life as well, that I have a looong time to keep changing and improving.  I read a talk this morning during personal study by Elder Jefferey R. Holland called "None were with Him" and i LOVED it.  It's about how because Christ suffered the atonement alone and did it for us, we can have his help and support and never have to be alone through anything we do. Through Him we can change and become who we need to be. I also loved His example of perfect faith, that even though He felt alone and had to be while He suffered, He knew that the Father was close by and would never leave Him.  How thankful I am to have His perfect example and His support as we strive to follow Him and to become who we need to be.

haha MOM don't be trunky ha :)  nope i don't have my travel plans yet :) 

Here is what Pres. Maurer sent back about ideas for jax's project.......

There are people who always need items like clothing and shoes etc. Helping people get on missions always takes more resources than many have. White shirts, scriptures, PMG etc etc. Even the minimum of 2,400 pesos is very hard to get by so many. I am not sure if anything I have mentioned can be achievable in your brother's plans, but it may help
you to add to them!!! 

hopefully that can help :).  let me know if theres anything i can help with :).  i love you all!  can't wait to hear from you next week :)

Love,

Sister Mortensen

Monday, November 23, 2015

It Really Is Evidence That The Gospel Is For Everyone No Matter Of Age Or Education Or Where You're From. It's Simple, And It's Perfect, And It's For All Of Us

hello family,

wow i can't believe it's getting cold! and snowing!  yeah i think this is gonna be the coldest winter of my LIFE once I get home :).  haha sounds like ali and josh really have gotten along better, that its depressing for ali that he won't be home for a long time.  hahaha great job ali :)

Today i wanted to tell you about some of the recent convert kids in our area!  J-- and R-- are about 10 years old and were baptized in october.  Their families are both members, but only sometimes come to church.  but these two kids and some of their friends that are investigators ALWAYS come to church, on their own.  And it's pretty far, but they're always early even.  And they both have such a great understanding of the gospel. It really is evidence that the gospel is for everyone, no matter of age or education or where you're from. It's simple, and its perfect, and its for all of us :).  it really just depends on if we really do have the DESIRE to understand, and are willing to try. and these kids definitely are. also, sidenote, they are hilarious!  they ask us what some words are in english sometimes, and think it's so funny that we call it a belly button.  Also, apparently sis russon is so white she sparkles! hahaha.  love these kids :).

they don't really celebrate thanksgiving in the philippines, but we will be!  We are hopefully going to make a filipino version of thanksgiving dinner.  haha we'll see how it turns out :).  you can't find as many things food wise as you can in my past areas, but we're gonna go look today :).  but just know, that i am thankful for YOU!  and i've recognized it more than ever being away all this time now :).  enjoy your thanksgiving!!! eats lots for me :)

hahaha josh, i'm definitely jealous of your view :).  but sounds like you are having some awesome experiences with those you are teaching :).  thanks for sharing. I'm sure you know but WRITE IN YOUR JOURNAL!  everything you want to remember :) haha .

also, about the pictures, i only have one for today... we had planned to go to an island to proselyte which is apparently BEAUTIFUL, but we had to cancel and move it to (hopefully...) this week.  so just the one.  with sister culangan!!  a previous companion :).  i miss her!  she's our stl here and was on exchanges with the other sisters :).  

as for the package, thank you again!!!  sounds great haha :). also the general conference ensign if its out now :)

love you all!  hope you have a FABULOUS week and enjoy your thanksgiving and the cold and everything!  we are so blessed :)

love you!

Sister Mortensen

Sister Culangan, Sister Russon, Sister ?, Sister Mortensen

Monday, November 16, 2015

It's Amazing How Much She Understands And Treasures What She Is Learning

Hello Family,

This week has been great!  We are starting to get to know more people and visiting them!  We are doing lots of OYMing as well and looking for those prepared for the gospel.  We've been working with one lady named R--, who just recently began investigating the church, but already has such a strong testimony!  It is amazing how much she understands  and treasures what she is learning.  She seems to already understand, even before we have taught her, we're almost just reviewing what she already knows and believes.  It's pretty amazing :).  she is definitely one of those thats is prepared and ready to receive the gospel.  She has to wait 4 more years to be baptized, since she is living in with brother, and they have both been married before.  But she is okay with that and says the time will fly anyway, she'll just continue learning and preparing :). hopefully that will give brother the time as well There are more people out there too, that are just as prepared as she is, and we know the Lord will lead us to them :). We are being blessed :).

Mom thank you for the wonderful quote about being optimistic.  Ah i love president hinckley :)

This week for my ponderizing verse, this morning i chose alma 5:26.  my favorite part...."do you feel so now?" I chose this to help me remember to ALWAYS strive to have the spirit and that feeling to 'sing the song of redeeming love' with us.  We are so incredibly blessing and i need to be better at remembering that.  

Love you all so so much!  I'll talk to you next week!!

Love, Sister Mortensen

Sister Mortensen and Sister Russon at a Members Wedding Reception



Monday, November 9, 2015

It's A Great Reminder To Me Of The Difference Between Going Through The Motions of Reading And Going To Church And All That, And REALLY Doing Them For The Right Reasons

Hello family,

we're doing great here in ALLEN!  it's been kinda a busy couple days and we haven't had a whole lot of time to work in the area really yet, but we're excited to get to work this week :).  haha mom i love all the questions :) We live with 2 sisters who are in the same branch with us as well, Allen 2 branch.  and there are elders that cover ward 1.  my first area with so many missionaries, so that's fun :).  The language really isn't too different... just many of the h's change to s.  and then some words are different.  but a lot of people speak tagalog, especially with the other sisters, since they're tagalog, so thats a little rough.  I understand some but not nearly enough haha.  but yes, the gift of tongues is definitely real :).  many blessings :).  its a pretty big area but we're just gonna start at the closer areas and maybe eventually get out a little farther. we'll see.  but nothing like biliran :).  the apartment is great, we're on the 3rd floor and the view is SO PRETTY.  right on the ocean :).  haha mom the toilet and shower are fine :).  i don't think yolanda hit here very bad, but not sure yet.  our attendance yesterday was 81!  they are hoping to become a ward soon!!  we just need a couple more active melchizedek priesthood holders :).  so close! my new companion is sister Russon!  she is from kaysville and is so sweet :).  shes a trooper too and eats everything and says its fine... even though i'm guessing it's still kinda new and weird for her.  haha she's so sweet.  today i think we'll try to buy some more 'american' food to give her a break sometimes. i am so so so excited though to be with her these next couple months, we are gonna have so much fun :). just keep praying for her okay since i'm not sure the best way to help her always to adjust and to learn the language :)

Today i also wanted to tell you about one of our investigators we taught this week!  Her name is J--, and she is a single mom, with a little boy who's one named E--.  When she was younger she was going to church pretty regularly for a couple of years, but was never baptized.  When we visited her last saturday she told us that she had been going to church but not really there spiritually, that it never really entered her mind and heart what she was hearing.  She said she would read the Book of Mormon sometimes but never understood any of it.  But when she had her son it kinda woke her up and she kind of realized that she really wanted to know that is was true for herself and to be baptized!  she wants to raise her son in the church :).  She came to church on sunday and we are planning for her to be baptized around the beginning of the year!  It was a great reminder to me of the difference between going through the motions of reading and going to church and all that, and REALLY doing them for the right reasons :).  

ah love the pictures!  ali and mom, you both are so cute! ah. and wow brayden!  haha who knew you were so talented?? oh wait we all did.  great job :)  haha and love the one of jax and ali!  haha it's actually starting to fit him now :).  you're so tall!!!  dad, 20 years? haha dad your job is as old as i am.  perfect age :)

goodness i love you all :).  don't forget that ha?  talk to you next week!!

Love, Sister Mortensen

President Maurer, Sister Russon, Sister Mortensen, Sister Maurer

View From the Apartment

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I Know That It Really Doesn't Matter If You Can't Really Speak And Understand The Language That Well...It Really Is Just The Spirit

Hi Family,

This has been a crazy week.....My nanay in the mission, sister kalua-santiago, went HOME today!  That is so crazy isn't it!  I'm gonna miss her... but i know we'll see each other plenty of times again and am SO excited for her as well :).  haha i can't even say how grateful i am for her :).  goodness how in the world did i luck out with such great companions? i am blessed :)

Ah my dear family, I love you all so so much :)  and i have a favor.......pray for me lots now okay? but mostly pray for my new ANAK because i'm training!  ...and transferring to allen up in catarman zone... which means i'll be learning a new version of waray and also tagalog i'm told!  So lots of prayers okay? :) i'm excited and surprisingly medyo calm about it.  If i stop and think about it too much, its scary haha, but then i know that it really doesn't matter if you can't really speak and understand the language that well...  it really is just the spirit, and new missionaries always have such STRONG faith and excitement for the work, so we'll be able to just figure it out together :)

we came to tacloban yesterday (tuesday) for transfer day and then today we met the new missionaries and went out OYMing with them!  and then had p day, and i got to go back to TANAUAN with SISTER GERALDEZ!!!  my previous area, and my previous companion :)  she was assigned there as well :).. how lucky are we?  we asked president and he said that would be great so... we went and visited some members :).  And goodness it was SO wonderful, i can't even say :).  Ah goodness i just really have felt so blessed this week :). haha.  i know God loves each and everyone one of us and will BLESS us if we just try to follow Him :).  don't worry, He's very patient with us and understands when we make mistakes... we just have to try.  so keep trying everyone!  I'm praying for you ALWAYS ;).  love you all!!  

pray for us :) haha

Sister Mortensen

Pictures from our zone activity last Monday.  We went to the zoo, which is really just 
someones house where they let you walk in and look around.  The lion was the coolest.