Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Cherry on Top

Hey guys (:
Thought there was no better way to finish the blog than by sharing about my last and arguably best week in the Philippines - the week I was with my parents!!!!! (:
First, major props to Mama and Papa Lauck! The poor parents flew around the other side of the world (via NY/Moscow/Singapore/Davao) to come and get me. The first time I saw them was right after my batch and I finished our temple session. While I was still changing, someone told me my parents were waiting outside for me so I high tailed my butt out of there and ran out of the doors to see them!

IT WAS SO NICE <3333333333

And it was so fun to have my parents meet my mission BFF's, especially Sis.Mahinay & Sis.Enlacinto, as they live in the Philippines. There was nose bleeding for all!

(It was really really nice for me to not be the only one who looks like a giant standing next to those 2 haha)

Final Batch pic
After a fun night of catching up with my parents (there was a lot of Bisayan and stuttering and "what's that word again in English?" on my part), we hopped on a ferry over to my first area in Bohol (:  We did some serious eating, as well as catching up with some of my favorite people there like the Cacho Family (I was their adoptive 2nd daughter hehe), the Pepino Family, & my recent converts, Rose, Abby & Hazel. Rose & Abby earned their YW Medallions since I transferred and are still steadfast and immovable asever. Hazel, who is 10 now, still goes to church all by herself. It was the best feeling to come back to my first area after a year and see my girls still enduring to the end. They are my heros!

Only my parents would take a selfie with the tricycle driver
They were digging on the mango & coconut shakes! Lami!
The Cacho's and Rose


Then the next day I got to show my parents some gems around the island (: It was so fun to have Juzenn & Rose tag along!
Tarsier Zoo

Man Made Forest

Chocolate Hills

Butterfly Garden

The Hanging Bridge
And then we decided to go zip lining hehe

Didn't think I go ziplining  in my skirt, but there's a first for everything!

Our last day in Bohol I got to see Sis.Mimi! My trainer, Sis.T and I had the most amazing experience during my first 2 transfers to help her become active again. She just has a very special place in my heart. Sis.Mimi's still on fire and I was so psyched when she told me she saved enough $$ to travel to Cebu so she can receive her endowments. She's actually planning to go this weekend (:

 And then of course we had to go visit my beloved anak (trainee) Sis.Bolo!!! She was  assigned in a different part of the island so we had to hop on a Ceres bus to visit her in Valencia. Sis.Bolo was so happy to meet her "mommy & daddy", as she calls my parents haha and I got to visit the famous Nanay Paz is our mission, so it was a win-win!
And then Sis.Bolo (being typical Sis.Bolo) wanted to take 500 selfies and have a photo shoot on the beach....

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Before I left she made me sign a promise letter that I will come back to the Philippines and visit her haha I'm so grateful I got to say goodbye to my favorite fun sized sister missionary! We topped that day off with a super awesome missionary fireside with the branch. I got to speak along with my parents and some other recently returned missionaries from the Tag Bi 1 Branch. In true Bohol fashion, just as we started the firesde, the electricity shut off and we used our cell phones for lighting haha

My favorite girls!

President & Sister Quisido
 The next day we were stuck at the pier for about 8 hours because of a storm, but we eventually made it back to Cebu and I got to go to church in my both my 2nd & 3rd area, Danao and Consolacion! Because it was the first Sunday, I got to hear some beautiful and powerful testimonies from the members there. I was such a lucky duck! And then I double scored because I got to see some of my favorite fellow missionaries (:

Cruisin in the sikad. The poor driver had to pedal the 3 of us around


 Later I met up with Sister Clegg, who was out and about with her mom and brother, who picked her up as well. We visited one of our beloved investigators, Nanay Salome. She got baptized in May after we both had transferred out. Her cancer has returned, but she is just as faithful and diligenet in keeping the commandments as ever! And then we totally scored and got to eat dinner @ Bishop Almagro's house with his family! I love em, they're so fun!

The next day we toured Cebu with the best tour guides ever - Rox, Melai, Spencer, & Sherman (members from my 2nd area in Danao) & had the usual FHE at the Juntilla's (: They all took such good care of me when I was assigned in Danao and really were my second family.
Thank goodness for the selfie stick <3333

@TOPS, looking over all of Cebu City

And then my final day was spent visiting some of my favorite people in Danao & Lacion, finishing up at the mission home where we ate with President & Sister Tanner (two powerhouse individuals who I love and admire in every single way). We wanted to leave the Tanner's with a  S.R (simple remembrance), so we decided to give them a selfie stick for their own use hehe Sister Tanner was thrilled, President... not so much haha

My dad was basically a celebrity everywhere we went #whiteproblems

And to cap the night off I got released. In our hotel room. And I cried and cried and cried and cired and cried and tried to scheme up a way where I could stay another 18 months. Unfortunately, my parents said no haha
We had such a fun week together though! I loved loved LOVED getting to share what has become such a big part of my life with my parents. It was also pretty hilarious because everyone thought my mom was Filipino & kept speaking Bisayan to her. And then because there are so many older American men who come to the Philippines and marry young wives, they all thought my dad was a joe who married my "filipino" mother and I was their fil-am love child haha I got such a kick out of it.
And then the next day was the dreaded flight departing from the Philippines.....
But the fact that we were heading to Hawaii helped ease the pain :)
And after 2.5 weeks there, I'm now finally back in good ol' home sweet home here in Houston!
Was the transition hard? Yeah, of course. It's weird to hug guys, not have a 10:30pm bed time & to listen to anything other than EFY music & MoTab. Sometimes I think I'm speaking English, but Bisayan's actually comig out. Sometimes, I still refer to myself as Sister Lauck (I know, embarassing). I miss doing daily planning every night. I miss coming home and being exhausted/looking like a hot mess, but feeling happy nonetheless! I miss walking up to random Filipino's on the street and talking to them about the Restoration (though I guess I could still do that if I found some). I just miss being a missionary!
But even though the name badge is gone, the responsibility for me to open my mouth and invite others unto to Christ is still mine. Those fundamental commandments that helped solidfy my testimony in the field - daily prayer, service, scripture study - are still commandments for me to do. And as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the obligation is still mine to represent the Savior in all that I am and strive to become like Him. 
 I am SO grateful that this an everlasting gospel and that missionary work is eternal.
I'm grateful that because of my decision to serve, my commitment to follow my Savior has increased.
I'm  grateful to serve amongst the Filipino's who taught me more who Jesus Christ was. 
 And most of all, I'm grateful that because we have a loving Heavenly Father,' we can all continue to grow and continue and progress (even after missions) through faith in our Savior and His Atonement.
I LOVE you guys! Can't wait to see everyone!
Nahigugma ko ninyo <3