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.