Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 65 Arizona

Hey Mama

So...this week was a bit crazy and there is no way I can fit it all into one letter, so I thought I'd share something that I've learned these past few weeks. The idea that the gospel makes things easier is the biggest lie that I've ever heard. It has never made life easy. The fact that Jesus Christ suffered the pains of the world is evidence against that. He is the gospel in flesh and bones and His task was not any easier. What the gospel does is it makes everything black and white, it simplifies things so that we can make decisions with confidence. It takes all the confusion and mixed emotion and just boils it down to two choices. One decision that we make over and over and over again: do I want to do what God wants me to do or do I want to do what I want to do? The gospel clarifies things, but it doesn't make making the decision any easier. Its like in  Beauty and the Beast. There is the part when the father comes to the fork in the road. One of them looks safe and well traveled, the other looks super sketchy and precarious. When the father chooses the sketchy one...does he choose wrong or right? Really argument could be made for both options, but for the sake of this letter we are going to say that he chose the path that God wanted him to go down. Lets be real, every time we watch that movie it seems obvious which path he should have gone down. The other path looked safe, it looked better, it looked happier. But if he had gone down the "happy" path...Belle would have never met the beast and would have probably ended up as an old maid or married to Gaston. The Path that the father took was by no means easy. He suffered, he was imprisoned, and then...he had to watch his daughter trade herself for his freedom. Sad stuff, but this is Disney and so we know that it has a happy ending, its practically a guarantee. Belle ends up with the love of her life, she is happy. When the father was sitting in the jail, I doubt that the father ever imagined that anything like that was going to happen. The majority of the time, the other path looks and feels so alluring, the path away from that doesn't. But if you keep making those good decisions, the happy ending is guaranteed. No matter how lonely and painful the path, we have the Lord's promise that we will receive our reward-everlasting joy. Doing these things that we don't want to do, we show the Lord that He can count on us, that we are on His team and that we intend to stay there, we show Him that He can trust us and that is a trust you never want to lose. Moral of the story: Trust Him and He will trust you.

Hermana Raynor

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week 64 Arizona

Hey fambam!

So...this was a little bit crazy, but it was in a good way.
I went on an exchange with Hermana Mello. It was super fun. She has
been a missionary for about 6 months. I went with her into her area
and we just worked. It was a really fun. So on Tuesday, I woke up and my watch had stopped working (I'm working on getting a new battery) so I pulled out the watch that Kiki sent us all...I've gotten so many complements on it. 

Thursday we went and did service for a member. She called us pretty frantic that morning because the apartment above her flooded and so her apartment was flooded. We were helping her move things and since then all the lifting over my shoulder has been hurting, but its okay because I found some exercise band things and I can just start doing some of the exercises that they gave me when I did physical therapy.

Another cool thing, we have what is called "the president's challenge" in our mission. The challenge is to memorize the entire family proclamation and then recite the whole thing back to our mission president. Right now I have the first 4 paragraphs down, the fifth one is almost there.

Overall things are going really really well.

Love you
Sister Raynor

Philippines Week 69

This week has gone by really fast. It feels like I just emailed you all. This week was filled with spiritual ups and downs as we have been going through our area trying to help people to get ready for their baptisms in March. I am so happy for all of them but it is a little sad for me knowing that I wont get to be there for them. We've spent a lot of time this week working with the branch to make sure that our goals are in line with theirs. But other than that, this was my week:
  • Monday- We had a family home evening with the Tacuyan family.We played a couple of games. The penalty was getting lipstick drawn on your face--as you can see in the pictures, I won. (No lipstick for me:))

  • Tuesday- We taught a lot on Tuesday. Then we went to Nanay Silao's to pick some vegetables so that I could cook tinolang manok. There was also a HUGE birthday party at the Mercurio family's cousin's house.... In the Philippines, when there is a party, EVERYONE is invited. So we went and I was actually able to talk to their cousin who lived in America until high school and has been in the Navy. He is actually super interested-and it was fun to whip out some English... I'm not very good at small talk in English.
  • Wednesday- Sister Hart drank bad water... So the other sisters in the apartment weren't able to work. So we worked half the day in our area and then Sister Manilingan and I went home and Sister Manilingan and Sister Pinto went to work in the other area while I stayed with Sister Hart.
  • Thursday- I went on exchanges with Sister Bautista! It was super fun. I loved it. I've missed her. It felt so normal teaching with her (I followup trained her in Abucay for 12 weeks). But at the end of the night, we learned that the water pump at our apartment was broken-no water! So I spent about an hour on the phone with repair people, our apartment owner, apartment manager, and Elder Gorringe. All of these people informed me that it would not be able to be fixed for a few days. So I called Sister Dahle who sent President Dahle to pick us up so that we could go take a shower at the mission home. Perks of living down the street from the mission home.
  • Friday- We has mission president interviews and a big zone meeting. Kind of uneventful. We still didn't have water so we ended up showering and eating dinner at the mission home again.
  • Saturday- Worked all day. We've started incorporating Mormon messages into our work (my companion has a usb of them) and even though they are in English, they really help invite the spirit.
  • Sunday- We had a ton of investigators come to church! IT was awesome. Some of them even payed tithing-we were shocked. In our classes, we talked a lot about pagmamahal sa loob ng mag-anak.(Love inside the family) We were all talking about the ways to show love. It made me SUPER excited to see my family.I also went back to the American guy that we talked to at that birthday party. We taught him in English. It was hard. He is fluent in Tagalog as well but we were also teaching his 16 year old daughter who doesn't speak Tagalog. It was a good lesson- although he did drop a couple of bad words that I haven't heard in a really long time :)
SO that was my week. I hope everyone is happy and well.

I love you all and I'll see you in two weeks!
Love, Sister Raynor


Family Home Evening

a recent convert showing off his shirt,

 Me and Sister Bautista,

 Sister Manilingan asleep on a jeepney

My investigator who was a Captain of the Philippines Army. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Philippines Week 68

Kumusta ang aking family at mga kapatid?! I hope you are all doing great and awesome and wonderful and any other positive adjective. This week was a little all over this place as I went to Manila and had other meetings all over Olongapo and the mission. So I have it broken down into days. Pictures to come.

Monday- We went and got xrays taken to make sure that we all are good for departures. The hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, is a rather creepy place. We had to go down to the basement of a dimly lit, seemingly people-less hospital in order to find anyone to talk to. Strange experience. It was one of the more interesting hospitals that I've had the opportunity to roam. Then we went to the mission home to prepare for our trip to Manila. We ate pancakes and watched Meet the Mormons with our batchmates. Then Sister Hart and I got to sleep at the Gorringe's apartment-it was so much fun.

Tuesday- Started out driving at 4AM the 3.5 hours to Manila. We fingerprinted for 3 hours for our exit visas. Then we got to go to the temple. It was amazing.
Wednesday-I came back from Manila with the flu. I am so sick. But happy.

Thursday- We  spent a good chunk of time at a less actives house eating Indian mangoes.

Friday- Had my last MLC (Mission Leadership Council). Said a lot of hard goodbyes but was a super great day.

Saturday- Valentines Day-had dinner with the Mercurio family then Sister Hart surprised me with candles.

Sunday-We got a random text from Sister Dahle asking if shoe could work with us. So, Sister Dahle worked with us. Super fun. It was like a spiritual boost! Sister Dahle mentioned that she would like to go to those that would most benefit from her being there so we took her to Saricris. (A recent convert of a little under a year who has been having some family problems but has a desire to go on a mission.) As we were sharing with her about the joy of missionary work, I began asking her what she felt when she was baptized. She explained all about this great change that she felt in her heart after her baptism. It reminded me of a verse that President Dahle shared with me at the beginning of the training of Sister Lobaton: Alma 5:26 (And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?)

After she read the verse, I asked her what she felt "to sing the song of redeeming love" meant. She simply said- that is simple testimony. She explained to us that because she felt the change of heart, she needs to share it with others-she needs to sing the song of redeeming love. 

Even though, this seems like a simple thing, it mean a lot to me. As I am nearing the end of my mission, I feel like I have changed a lot. But this just reminded me of what I first felt when I decided to come on a mission. Who are we not to share what we know to be true. 

I know that God lives. I know that Christ is our Savior who perfectly loves and perfectly understands each of us. I know that God restored the perfect gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon in the word of God. As we each read and pray about its truthfulness, we will come to know and feel of its power. We are blessed to have a living prophet who guides us in this time. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's kingdom here on the earth.

I love my mission. I love these people. I love the gospel.

I love you all. See you in 3 weeks!

Love Sister Raynor

Monday, February 9, 2015

Week 63 Arizona

Hey mama,

This was a rough one. On Saturday, we were supposed to have a baptism didn't happen. The Aldacos were supposed to get baptized...I think I told you about them... if not, here's a recap. The Aldaco's are an older couple and they have been meeting with the missionaries for about 4 years, but they have never been able to  get baptized because they couldn't go to church. Hermano Aldaco has really really bad cancer and his doctor specifically told him not to go anywhere with lots of people, like churches. They were just waiting to finish this round of chemo and then they were going to get an MRI and if his cancer was better...they could come to church. They really thought it was better, but then the MRI results said that it was even worse and that they weren't going to have much time left together. So we went over with the Bishop and he said that now they need to take the risk more than ever so that they can make covenants and get ready for the temple, and they totally agreed. They were going to get baptized this Saturday, so on Tuesday, we got their baptismal interview all scheduled and just as we got there they told us that they had to go to the hospital~ they were going to move his medical records to a different one in Phoenix. We rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday morning we got a call from the Bishop and he told us that Hernano Aldaco was in the hospital with pneumonia, and that the doctor didn't think he was going to make it through the night. Saturday morning, we got another call...Hermano had died a little earlier that day. It was really sad, but the silver lining is that he's not hurting anymore and we talked to Maria a lot about temples  the week before. I think she'll get baptized within the next month or so. Then it'll be a year until she can get sealed to Hermano Aldaco.

Like i said...rough week. Also...this week was the week of meetings. I had to go to the Mission Leadership Counsel meeting in Tempe, and then to a stake meeting in northern Phoenix and all that jazz...long week.

Love you, 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Week 62 Arizona

So...this was an odd week. With the new transfer meeting/calls schedule we didn't find out anything until Tuesday night and then we had transfer meeting on Thursday. With that...I'm staying in Phoenix with Hermana Bishop and yes I'm still a sister training leader. Thanks for doing all that stuff for me, I really really appreciate it. Also thanks for the birthday package. It was nice, we all had a lot of fun with the slugs ;)

As for Shelly...this is what i usually say to people to help them to commit to a baptismal date.  Essentially, making this commitment is a huge act of faith. True to the faith says "Faith  is  a  principle of action and power. Whenever you work toward worthy goal, you exercise faithYou show your hope for something that you cannot yet see."  The question that Shelly needs to ask herself is does she have faith. Does she believe that God could answer her prayer before her baptismal date? The Fact is that she is never going to know enough, if we know something is true, then we don't need to have faith anymore.I like how Alma says it, " 17 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us sign from heaven, then we shall know of surety; then we shall believe.
 18 Now ask, is this faith? Behold, say unto you, Nay; for if man knoweth thing he hath no cause to believefor he knoweth it." God wants us to have faith, it is after the trial of our faith that we receive the knowledge. Faith is believing in something to the point where we must act. Its kind of like that trust fall exercise that we always did in leadership, I can say that i believe that my friend is going to catch me...but if i never actually fall back, if i never actually take that i really trust (or have faith) in my friend? The scriptures teach us that if we do our part, if we pray and study the scriptures and go to church and do all the other things that the missionaries are asking us to do then God WILL answer us, he CANNOT ignore us it goes against eternal laws for him to ignore us. On top of that...committing to a baptismal date is a huge act of faith. At this point she has no idea if the church is true, but by committing to a specific date is how we act, its how we fall. So does Shelly have the faith, does she trust that God will tell her whether or not this is true before her baptismal date?

She needs to ask herself if she trusts God.

I love you mamma

Philippines Week 67

This has been a busy week for the work here in Calapacuan.

On Monday, after I emailed we spent some time on Subic Base. We actually ran into a member from San Felipe. Its weird to see people from other areas. Memories just kind of all rush back at once.

On Tuesday I gave a workshop to my zone. It was super fun. I focused on Companionship unity- I had each companionship tie their legs together (like a three-legged race) and then I put clues and riddles through out the church and they had to race and go find them. (The church in Olongapo has two floors so it was hilarious watching people struggle to climb of the stairs.) After that, we went out to lunch with Elders Lugo and Christensen. Then randomly in the middle of lunch Sister Hart said that she has an announcement then kneeled down pulled out some flowers and asked me to be her Valentine.

 We then spent all of our time and efforts trying to strengthen our investigators. We are really teaching some great people. 

On Thursday, we got to go to a Sunday School Training in Olongapo in which Elder Ardern and President Durrant (Sunday School Presidency) taught us. It was a very neat experience. 

On Friday night, I came home to Sister Hart doing my laundry. She always knows just how to woo me. We have come to the conclusion that she should just do my laundry for the rest of our missions. As soon as I started to help, everything seemed to go wrong- Sister Hart almost dropped half the clothes off the balcony, bubble fights and lots of splishing and splashing, slippin and slidin (Bobby Darrin style). Our companions were just laughing at us. 

On Saturday morning, we were able to do a CSP at the home of an 85-year old less active widow. She has become totally self reliant and manages/works in her own garden to support her and her whole family. She is very amazing. She recently returned to full activity in the church and we are hoping there her return will lead to the returns and baptisms of many of her relatives. We worked and gardened with her for a few hours. When I say we I mean me, Sister Pinto and Sister Hart. My companion sister Manilingan spent most of her time taking pictures and eating. She is hilarious.

On Sunday Night/this morning at around 12:15 am, Sister Hart came in and woke me up because she had a dream that the Second Coming was here and so she needed to clean everything.Somehow, she managed to convince me that it was necessary to clean in the middle of the night :) So she and I got up (while she let our companions sleep-lucky) and cleaned until about 3 AM. It was probably smarter that way though because today (preparation day-cleaning day) is going to be super busy... We were told on Saturday that all the missionaries going home this transfer need to get a chest xray (precautionary). So I texted President Dahle last night to get permission for Sister Hart and I to go on exchanges to go to the hospital. Then tonight, the two of us need to be at the mission home by 7pm...because tomorrow-We are going to Manila! The Gorringes invited Sister Hart and I to stay with them in their apartment instead of in the Living Room of the mission home so we are going to have a "slumber party" with them tonight. And then we hop in a van at 1AM tonight in order to get to Manila tomorrow. All the foreigners in my batch need to be fingerprinted for our exit visas and because the temple is closed next month they are letting us go to the temple as well :) Super Exciting. 

Well, that's all for this week. Love you all.
Love Sister Kate Raynor

Working in the garden

My ALLTIME favorite gulay/herb--Malunggay or Moringa in english. I am praying that they have it in the states... 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Week 61 Arizona

Show this to EVERYONE!


I am a Mormon Because I am a Feminist

I am a convert to the Mormon Church from Roman Catholicism, and gained my testimony as the result of spiritual experiences that I cannot deny. In this essay, however, I will discuss instead why, as a feminist, I remain a steadfast member of the LDS Church.
It is very difficult to be raised in one of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity), as I was, and not come away with some fairly unpleasant conclusions about women. Depending on the religion and sect involved, one may be taught that the first woman was feeble-minded or a murderess and that all her daughters are marred by that fact, that a woman’s body is unclean, that God meant women to submit to their husbands and in general be subservient to men, and that divinity is male and male alone. (Of course, echoes of such teachings can be found in other faith traditions besides the Abrahamic, as well.)
After decades of studying LDS doctrine concerning women (and carefully distinguishing it from LDS cultural understandings and practices, which in quite a few cases contradict that doctrine), I have been liberated as a woman from the erroneous and harmful beliefs about women that haunt those raised in Abrahamic traditions. How remarkable and in some senses ironic it still seems to me to have experienced “women’s lib” by conversion to Mormonism!
I will first review the main points of doctrine that make Mormonism the most feminist of all the Christianities in my view, and then proceed to re-tell the story of the Garden of Eden from the vantage point of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Restored Gospel teaches that the term “God” means an exalted woman and an exalted man married in the new and everlasting covenant (D&C 132:19-20). We are taught that there is no God without men and women loving each other as equals. Heavenly Father is not an eternal bachelor; he is married to our Heavenly Mother. In fact, the one who’s an eternal bachelor is Satan.
Second, the Restored Gospel teaches that all will have their male or female body forever. It is not a curse, but a great gift and a blessing that each soul had to prove itself worthy to have. Women readers, your breasts, your womb, your ovaries, are not unclean cursings; they are blessings. And the Restored Gospel also teaches me that I will be married forever, and that I will have children forever, and that the life of being a woman married to my sweetheart and having children forever is the life that will bring me the fullest joy in the eternities—as it has here on earth.
Third, LDS doctrine teaches that men and women are equals before the Lord and before each other. “Equal” does not mean “identical”—for example, there are no two men who are identical, and yet they stand as equals before each other and before the Lord. Can we imagine an understanding of equality that means that a man and woman, though different, can be equals before the Lord and before each other? That is the vision of equality that the Restored Gospel teaches.
Elder L. Tom Perry, an apostle of the LDS Church, said in 2004: ““There is not a president and vice president in a family. We have co-presidents working together eternally for the good of their family . . . They are on equal footing. They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward.”What an incredible vision, especially for a Christian denomination, many of which believe in some type of doctrine of submission of wives to husbands. The LDS do not preach submission of wives.
In my opinion, we cannot fully understand this revolutionary doctrine of the LDS Church unless we go back to the story of the Garden of Eden. Again, let us start with three main points of difference in the telling of that story from the vantage of the Restored Gospel.
Number one: the LDS do not believe that the Fall was a great tragedy. Rather, we believe that the Fall was foreordained, that it was for our progression, and thus the Fall was a blessing. Number two, the LDS do not believe that Eve sinned in partaking of the fruit of the First Tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And number three, because the LDS do not believe Eve sinned, we also do not believe that Eve was punished by God for her role in partaking of the fruit, but rather rewarded.
The Great Plan of Happiness devised for the children of God mandated that they leave their heavenly home, receive a mortal body as a blessing, enter into full agency by being separated from God, and then return once more to their heavenly home to be judged for how they used their agency. That is, the Plan was to be a “round,” if you will: it would take us from our heavenly home and, if we walked that path well, the plan would bring us back to our heavenly home, now much more like our Heavenly Parents, with much more knowledge, a fuller agency, a desire to choose the right, with so much more than we ever could have acquired if we had stayed in heaven with a pale or dilute version of agency.
Only the children could choose to leave, and to bring to pass a separation from their divine parents. And so in the Garden were placed a son and a daughter of God, and two trees. Two persons, two trees.
Both Trees represented doorways along the journey of the Great Plan. The First Tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, symbolized the doorway leading from heaven, and the ordinances of entering mortality with a mortal body, gaining full agency, and having the light of Christ awakened within. The Second Tree, the tree of eternal life, symbolized the ordinances of salvation and exaltation, and the doorway back to our heavenly home.
Eve was created second, then, not because she was derivative of Adam: she was created second to highlight that the giving of the gift of the First Tree was the gift to be given by women in the Great Plan.2 It is through women that souls journey to mortality and gain their agency, and in general it is through the nurturing of women, their nurturing love of their children, that the light of Christ is awakened within each soul. And we should include in that list of souls Jesus the Christ. Even Christ our Lord was escorted to mortality and veiled in flesh through the gift of a woman, fed at his mother’s breast, and awakened to all that is good and sweet in the world. Women escort every soul through the veil to mortal life and full agency. It is interesting to think that even Adam, who was created before Eve, entered into full mortality and full agency by accepting the gift of the First Tree from the hand of a woman. In a sense, Adam himself was born of Eve.
If Eve was foreordained to give this good gift as her stewardship in the Great Plan, then she did not sin—and that is LDS doctrine. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle of the LDS Church, has said, “Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode called the Fall.”3 We believe that our Heavenly Parents, and also all of the rest of God’s children, were happy and grateful that Eve offered her gift.
Eve, then, was not the worst among women; Eve was the best among women! She was the most courageous, the most full of faith. It was also right, then, that the first mortal being that the resurrected Jesus showed himself to was not a man; it was a woman. Jesus’ performance of the Atonement repaid Mother Eve’s faith in the Plan, her courageous opening of the door represented by the First Tree.
Did God curse Eve? We know that the ground was cursed for the sake of Adam and Eve—is this a cursing of Adam and Eve? In the teachings of the LDS Church, we do not believe that that was a curse meant to punish them—it was a curse meant to start that law of opposites that undergirds agency: virtue and vice, pleasure and pain, light and darkness, truth and lies (2 Ne 2:11-13). Eve was told she would labor in childbirth—was this a cursing of Eve? Again, from the LDS perspective, absolutely not. To have children, to be able to fully give the gift of Eve, is one of the most soul-satisfying parts of a woman’s life that she will either experience here or in the hereafter if circumstances have prohibited it here.
And then in the King James version of the BIble, we are told that Eve, as part of her punishment, was told that Adam would rule over her. Is that what the LDS believe? Actually not. Elder Bruce C. Hafen, a seventy in the LDS Church, says: “Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to ‘rule over’ Eve, but… over in ‘rule over’ uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over…. The concept of interdependent equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel.”4
So the LDS alone among all Christian religions assert that not only did Eve not sin, but she was rewarded for her courage and wisdom, and God was assuring her that, just as she fulfilled her role in the Great Plan of Happiness, Adam would step up to the plate, and he would perform his role in the Great Plan of Happiness, and that would entitle him to rule with her. This is absolutely revolutionary and astounding doctrine among all the Christianities!
What gift will Adam give to further the Great Plan? The LDS believe that Adam and his sons will give the gift of the fruit of the Second Tree to the children of God, those who are worthy to receive it, just as Eve and her daughters give the fruit of the First Tree to all who are worthy to partake of it. The fruit of the Second Tree is the ordinances of salvation and exaltation administered by the sons of God. Just as the doorway through the veil into this life is administered and guarded over by the women, the daughters of God, so the doorway through the veil that brings us home is administered and guarded over by the sons of God. And those that have accepted the gift of the Second Tree from the hands of the sons of God will pass through that veil and back to that celestial place where they can be with their Parents once more.
Just as Adam was asked to hearken to Eve and received the fruit of the First Tree, Eve is asked by God to hearken to Adam in accepting the fruit of the Second Tree. We would be remiss if we did not see that there were two hearkenings, two gifts given, two gifts received, two stewardships.
That means that priesthood, in the LDS understanding, is not some extra given to men and denied women. Priesthood is a man’s apprenticeship to become a heavenly father, and it is clear from LDS doctrine that women have their own apprenticeship to become like their heavenly mother. The ordinances—and they are ordinances—of body and of agency—pregnancy, childbirth, lactation—the spiritual ordinances of the First Tree are not less powerful or spiritual than the ordinances of the Second Tree.5 Women have their own godly power.
Some have erroneously felt that the Church and its male leaders preside over the members’ families, and that somehow that means that men are to rule over women. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Restored Gospel helps us see that the Church is intended to be the gift that the sons of God give to the family, just as the daughters of God give a great gift to the family. The Church, then, is but an auxiliary to the family, which stands above it in the eternal plan. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of the LDS Church, has said, “There might be wards and stakes in heaven—I don’t know anything about them—or there may well be some other organization that we don’t know much about. What we do know will exist in heaven is families. And most of what has been revealed about our afterlife, our eternal life, our celestial life, focuses on family organization….”6 The family is the divine organization, and we know from LDS doctrine that, in the family, women and men rule as equals. President James E. Faust, of the First Presidency of the LDS Church, said: “Every father is to his family a patriarch and every mother a matriarch as coequals in their distinctive parental roles.”7 Notice the drumbeat, again, of equality.
I remain a steadfast member of the Mormon Church because, for the first time in my life, I understand why it is not a curse to be born a woman, and how it can be said with a straight face that men and women stand before God and before each other as true equals. I understand now that women are that they might have joy (2 Ne 2:25). And, odd as it may sound to some, I believe that one of the most profoundly feminist acts one can commit is to share the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. The Restored Gospel not only restores right relations between man and God, but right relations between men and women, making it the strongest, most progressive force for women in the world today.
1 L. Tom Perry, “Fatherhood—An Eternal Calling,” Church News, 10 April 2004,:15, hard copy version only; the original wording is in the audio version of the 2004 April General Conference address at
2 Alma Don Sorensen, “The Story of Eve,” in Alma Don Sorensen and Valerie Hudson Cassler, Women in Eternity, Women of Zion (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2004), pp. 68-101
3 Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, November 1993, pp. 72-75
4 Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, “Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners,” Ensign, August 2007, pp. 24-29
5 Analiesa Leonhardt, “The Sacrament of Birth,” SquareTwo, Vol. 3 No. 1, Spring 2010,
6 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, LDS Church, February 9, 2008, p. 12
7 James E. Faust, “The Prophetic Voice,” Ensign, May 1996, p.4
Valerie Hudson Cassler ( was born in Washington, D.C., and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1971. She attended Brigham Young University, where she received her B.A. in political science, with minors in International Relations and Russian. She obtained her Ph.D. in political science from Ohio State University. She taught at Northwestern University and at Rutgers University before joining the political science faculty at BYU in 1987. She served for eight years as director of graduate studies at the David M. Kennedy Center for International and Area Studies, and is the recipient of several teaching honors, including the Karl G. Maeser Excellence in Teaching Award.
Dr. Hudson Cassler is the author, co-author, or editor of many scholarly books and articles on international relations, national security, and foreign policy, including Foreign Policy Analysis: Classical and Contemporary Theory (Boulder: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), Culture and Foreign Policy, Artificial Intelligence and International Politics, and, with Andrea Den Boer, Bare Branches: Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Populations (MIT Press, 2004). Among numerous academic distinctions, she won the Otis Dudley Duncan Award from the American Sociological Association in 2004 and, in 2005, the prize for the Best Book in Political Science from the American Association of Book Publishers. In 2009, she was named among the 100 Most Influential Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine. She has written considerably on Mormons and Mormonism, as well, having, among other things, edited multiple books with Kerry M. Kartchner on Latter-day Saints and their relationships with United States foreign and security policies, and, with A. Don Sorensen, published a substantial article on Latter-day Saint views of feminist theology in David L. Paulsen and Donald W. Musser, eds., Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary Christianity (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2007). She is also one of the co-founders of the on-line Latter-day Saint forum SquareTwo (
Valerie Hudson Cassler is married to the artist David Cassler, and they are parents to eight children. They reside in Orem, Utah.
Posted September 2010

Philippines Week 66

I feel like I have written a billion letters home over the last 17 months. That is probably a little bit of an over statement but none the less here is my letter. I am going to try to keep this simple... probably. But I just want to let everyone know that I love you all and I am getting a little bit (understatement) excited to see you all next month.

This is whats up--
  • TRANSFERS!!! I did not transfer. So that means that I will only have three areas in my mission with 6 months in each area. So Calapacuan will be my last area about a 5 minute walk to the mission home. Sister Hart and Elder Christensen also did not transfer and so I will end with the same people that I started my mission with. Pretty cool. 
  • My new companion is Sister Manilingan. Its funny because I actually went on exchanges with her a few weeks ago and recommended her to be a Sister Training Leader and now I am the one training her. But she is great. She is still obsessed with David Archuleta and the color purple. She actually told some children in a lesson the other day not to look at bad, dirty pictures but just look at pictures of good David Archuleta-maganda iyan.
  • Brother Eman was baptized he is the 5th member of his family to be baptized. There are about 7 more of their family members that will be baptized in the next few months. 
  • I was put in charge of doing a fireside for the branch. So yesterday, it finally all came together. It turned out to be very fun. We had a few speakers and then I gave a workshop for 2 hours. By the end of the fireside, my voice was so weak and shaky that they ended up setting up an extra mic. 
  • I got to see some more batchmates: Sister Empalmado, SIster Udall and Elder hill. 
  • We also spent some time with my Tatay here in the Philippines. Tatay Mercurio. He informed me that he is throwing a goodbye party for me and has already invited half the branch. I love that guy. He is going to the temple in November.
  • This week was filled with a lot of incredibly spiritual lessons. I love it when the Spirit takes over. We were able to invite a lot of people to be baptized. 
  • This week, we have President Arden of the Area Presidency and another member of the 70 coming to speak to us. There are a lot of random events coming up-super fun.
Well, those are the highlights from this week. Lots of other crazy other things have happened. But overall, I am just happy to be here. I just want to work harder and harder everyday until I hit that long plane ride home. 

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the same church that Christ established in his lifetime. I know that God has restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. 

I know that it is more fun in the Philippines.

Philippines Week 65

Family! Mga Kaibigan ko! Namimiss ko kayo! Excited ako na kita kita!

What up?!? I was thinking of you all a ton this week. I got to see a lot of my batch this week and the progression of each of my batchmates shocks me. It is so cool. Today, Sister Hart, Sister Udall and I become the oldest foreigner sisters in the mission. Crazy. Sister Enguito, my beloved trainer, goes home today. Transfer Day is on Wednesday and so that will be interesting. Sister Lobaton, my companion, has decided to go home due to family problems... 
So that increases my chances of this being my last area. As much as I don't want to be transferred for the last six weeks, that would mean that I would have only 3 areas (6 months in each). 
So this week in the Philippines...
  • On Tuesday we had my last zone conference. I got to see my batchmates here: Elders Hill, Jarvis and Christensen and Sister Anien. I also got to see one of my favorite companion Sister Bautista. My district leader from the MTC, Elder Jarvis, informed me that they are making him go home to have surgery on a broken rib. Super sad. There is a tradition at zone conference that the missionaries that will go home before the next zone conference bear their "final" testimony. That was super hard. I never thought that the thought of leaving the Philippines would be so painful. I am so grateful for the time that I have had here. For all of the things that I have learned and for the relationship that I have with my Father in Heaven. Pictures: me and the Gorringes; me, Elder Jarvis, Hill and Sister Anien, me and Sister Bautista and Elder Lugo, any other picture where I am wearing pink is from zone conference.
  • On Wednesday, Sister Lobaton decided to go home so we spent a good portion of the morning talking to President Dahle and getting her departure setup. She will leave this Wednesday...
  • On Thursday, we had weekly planning. Sister Hart and I started our last Missionary Planners. I also bought a deck of cards for my 72 Hours Kit... in case of boredom in a storm... they actually haven't made it into my kit because we have been playing speed and Egyptian war every night this week :) Super fun. We are going to see if SIster Dahle will let us borrow her Phase 10 for p-day later :)
  • On Friday: Finally, after living together for 8 months, Sister Hart and I went on our first ever exchanges together. We ended up going to a family home evening that night. It was super fun. Everyone kept asking if we were sisters (because we are both white and they are used to me being with a Filipina). Super fun. Below is a picture of my favorite little boy who is the grandson of the lady that we had the FHE with...
  • On Saturday, Sister Lobaton and I went on splits so that we could go find some new people to teach while still being able to visit our recent converts and the less actives in our area. So, Sister Lobaton went to visit people while I went finding for the day :) I worked with a recent convert named Saricris. She is 21 and very eager about the work. She will be putting her papers in the week that I leave.
  • On Sunday, we went to church to renew our covenants.  :) We then had a meeting to report on our work to the branch missionaries (pictures below). Then I got a call from Elder Christensen who called so that Elder Jarvis could say goodbye to me. It was, surprisingly, super hard to say goodbye. He has been a very good friend. But he lives in Grants Pass and is going to OSU so I'll see that kid around.Pictures from Sunday- I am wearing a black top. We took some district pictures.
  • The work here in the Philippines is progressing. We are teaching more and more people that are eagerly searching for things that will bless their lives. The people here are so humble and willing to accept the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love it here.
I love you all so much! Have a great week!
Love, Sister Raynor

PS-to the other Sister Raynor (Ash)... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Also just remembered that I hate balut this week too. It wasnt as bad this time... But I did throw it up this time. The first time I did not throw up...