Thursday, January 16, 2014

El templo es la casa de Dios

 Now that I have a little over than a month left until I report to the Missionary Training Center, I have to really buckle down and get things done. One of the major things that I have to do is go through the temple to receive my endowments. I've talked about it with my Branch President Ethan Lee and asked him what I needed to do before I do go. He told me that I needed to go to temple prep-to receive all the 6 lessons before getting my recommend. I explained to him that I desired to go as soon as possible during January and he told me that our senior couple missionaries would be able to teach me all the lessons accommodating my schedule.

Sunset Beach YSA Branch Temple Prep Class

Elder and Sister Wright, from Idaho are amazing. They were able to teach me all six lessons within one hour and one sitting in their lovely home on a sunday evening. I was able to receive a couple of them during church, and the remaining in their home. Elder and Sister Wright successfully prepared me to go into the temple and I am absolutely grateful. Unfortunately they won't be in Hawaii anymore when I return from my mission, so I told them that I have to visit them in Idaho someday. :)

While I was preparing to go in, it felt like it was taking longer than I wanted it to be. I just wanted to go in….but it required of me to be patient and to follow the counsel of my branch president. From actually taking temple prep and being patient made me realize that it was all God's timing. It was only within 2-3 weeks of temple prep and interviews for my recommend then I was able to enter the Lord's house…when I got my first interview with my branch president completed, I didn't know that I would be able to get my stake interview done on that very same day, too…and that I did. I called the temple within a few days after getting my recommend and when the temple was now opened after the new years vacation. Right there and then I found out that they were available for appointments for the whole entire week. I scheduled it to be the the very next day and then I realized that it was happening fast. 

On Wednesday, January 15, 2014, I was endowed in the Laie Hawaii Temple. 

My mom was my escort and my dad was able to accompany me during the session. I was blessed to be assisted by many sisters in the temple, Sister Dianne Neal, Sister Takomoto, Sister Pinky Farley, Sister Aiu, and Sisters who I know not their names. Elder and Sister Wright, Branch President Lee, and one of my best friends, Janzelle Beaver were also very kind to be there during the session. I was able to meet a sister who has a daughter who is currently serving a mission in Bangkok, Thailand. It was a blessing to meet her especially when she had realized that my mom is also from Bangkok. She told me that, "It is meant to be for us to meet at this very time and very place in the temple." My mom took down this sister's contact information and we hope we can have her meet our family in Thailand. 

It was the most wonderful and beautiful experience I had thus far. I was scared and excited before entering, but once I was inside I felt nothing but peace. When I finally reached the Celestial room, I went inside to sit with my parents and saw that my dad was in tears. It was a little taste of heaven…of the Celestial life. Entering the temple meant that I finally had greater knowledge of the gospel. Can you imagine this to be the Celestial life? When we are resurrected and entering the Lord's kingdom can you imagine everyone you love there, dressed in white? Everyone greeting you with overwhelming joy, saying "You did it! You are here and now we can feel of His love and be at rest. We are now in the presence of God!"? I imagined preparing to meet God for the first time while I was in there and felt nothing, but peace. It was the first time where all my worries were out of reach inside of my mind. I could no longer feel anything negative. I forgot all my sorrows and all the things that made me feel inadequate. It was feelings of love and comfort. It was full of light and calmness. That is what heaven is all about and that I can't wait to feel again.

What also makes January 15, 2014 to be extra special is that my grandfather, my mother's father, Toontum Jirapoomdech was also endowed at the very same moment as I was, in the temple. My dad was able to get his work done while mine was being done, too.

March 7, 1938-July 23, 2012
Forever in our hearts and never forgotten 
My grandfather is a wonderful man who is well known for being one of the hardest workers in our family. He is highly praised by my uncles, my aunt, and my parents. He was diagnosed with colon cancer and has reached it final stages. When we left Thailand, we knew that it would be the last time we would be seeing him here on earth. I only knew him for so long before he passed. I grew to love him within a month when we visited him. Although we left knowing we wouldn't see him for awhile, we knew we were going to see him again in the eternities, the life here after earth. He passed away on July 23, 2013 and on January 15, 2014, he was able to have his work completed in the temple.  

With the Grandkids

My siblings with Grandpa

My overall experience was amazing. I am truly humbled by it all in knowing that His work is real and the Plan of Salvation is real. It is perfect and created long before we know just for us to live by to this very day and the next life to come. I have a wonderful family, parents, and gospel in my life. I am truly blessed and I hope many who are seeking truth in their life, may find it soon, and if you need help finding it I am willing to share it with you :)... because well…I have found it and now I love it even more than ever.

Sincerely yours,
Rissy (Hermana Santeco)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I am Mormon and I love it.

My name is Marisa Jirapoomdaje Santeco and I am Mormon. 
       I didn't quite want to keep a blog for my mission in the first place, but I felt that it would be nice to have an online journal for others to read and perhaps feel inspired from my stories.. or just for them to see what's going on in my life. So here it goes..

I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Oahu in Hawaii. I have been here all my life. I was raised in the church and I love the gospel more than ever. My parents were international students attending at BYU-Hawaii, where they have met. My father is originally from the Philippines and my mother is from Thailand. My mom is a convert. She got baptized while she attended BYU-H. My dad's parents were converts, but only my dad and one of his brothers became members of the church. I have one older sister and two younger brothers. I guess from our own understanding is that our family including my grandparents on my father side are the only active members of the church, but I'm pretty sure I have distant relatives that I have not met or know of that are members of the church.

My dad is the only one in my family who has served a mission. He served the Philippines Manila mission. From his example and his faith, I have to say that if it weren't for him, I wouldn't have consider serving a mission as much as I do now. I love my daddy!

On November 5th, 2013, I received my mission call in the mail. My mom recorded my whole reaction when I opened the mailbox. It's embarrassing. So just look at this picture :).

Then on November 8th, 2013, I opened my call and found out that I was going to serve a foreign mission…the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission. Spanish speaking. Reporting to the Colombia Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. My reaction?

Well besides the fact that I couldn't even pronounce "Cochabamba" (now I can), I honestly didn't know where on earth Bolivia was….until my family had to ask our good friend, Google…hahaha. Then I finally remembered studying the south America map in one of my art history classes at BYUH. Yeah….I'm going to south America….which I ironically said before opening my letter that I hope that I don't go to south America…But the Lord knows where to send me and that is to Bolivia. 

The fact that I was going to a foreign place kind of made me feel scared, yet excited. I have prayed constantly (still am) to try to understand why am I being sent to Bolivia when I could go to the states and speak my native language, English. I just knew that it is going to be hard and that is what just scares me. But from humbling myself numerous times, God has reassured me that He will always be there with me during those times of hardship…plus with God, all things are made possible. 

I am the first missionary in my immediate family besides my dad…so I guess I am second? But you get the idea (right?). My family is just so new to this, but at the same time so excited. My family has been so supportive with my decision to serve a mission and I am so grateful. 

Now I swear the last time I've checked how many days I have left until I leave, I had 101 days left, but now I only have 43 days?! The time goes by quickly that sometimes I wish it could just all slow down. I only have so many days to be with my family before I have to say "Hasta luego". 

I just want to express my gratitude for all the amazing people in my life for guiding me and shaping me into the person I am today. If it weren't for the gospel, I wouldn't be this happy. Because of this gospel, I have felt so much love from everyone, including our Heavenly Father, and Lord, Jesus Christ. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. I know that God has restored His church on earth through His Prophet Joseph Smith. I know the Book of Mormon to be true. And through this gospel, we are given the proper authority to perform the ordinances which we need in order to return to our Father in Heaven. We have the restored gospel here on earth and because of that, I know that my family can be together forever. I love my Savior and my family so much. I am so grateful. 

En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen. 

Con mucho amor!

-Rissy (Hermana Santeco)

PS: To my readers, I hope you all are able to feel of God's love for you and know that His love is never changing…it is infinite and divine.