Kumusta po kayo??
Hello po pamilya ko! Well I've made it a full week and a half in the Philippines and I'm still alive :) I do not even know where to begin. So many things happen EVERYDAY. I am constantly saying to myself, "Oh, I've got to make sure and tell the fam about this!" I wish you all could see and experience this country and work along with me, but this letter will have to do...
Seriously this last week and a half has been a total whirlwind. I go to sleep every night and just think what just happened?? Because we go so many places, teach/meet so many people and experience so many new things and MOST of all I, in all actuality, have no idea what really did happen because it was all in Tagalog hahaha and then I fall straight to sleep because I am beyond EXAUSTED every night and its awesome!
I have NEVER worked so hard in my life! I am still loving the work, the people and my companion, but I'm quickly learning that missionary work is HARD. This work and mostly learning this language is pushing me in ways I have NEVER been pushed before. Everyday I have so many ups and downs, but somehow by the end of each day its an up and I can easily see the Lord's hand in everything that happened. I was really struggling trying so hard to forget myself in the work and become the Lord's missionary, but I realized that the more I got caught up in forgetting myself the more I got stuck on myself. I kind of got a spiritual slap across the face when I was reading some of my notes from a devotional by Elder Bednard. He said, "The character of Christ is a simple thing, He turns out when you and I would turn in...This mission is not about you...Get out of the way and turn to Him. Get over yourself!... Become converted now. But its not about you its to help others do the same. The only way you will find yourself is when you come to Christ, but you won't be looking for it." That coupled with Ether 12:27 was just what I needed. I'm finding a lot of weaknesses and I'm realizing quickly how much I have to learn, but I'm also learning how to rely on my Savior and through Him my weaknesses can become strong. This is all about the beautiful Pilipino people, and I feel so blessed to be here!
Working with Sister Yagemai is wonderful. It gets interesting/hilarious at times because we come from such different cultures and different backgrounds. For example, her and the Pilipino sisters living us say some weird phrases in english that mean something totally different then what they are trying to say so we all get completely confused and frustrated then suddenly burst out laughing because we are all just starring at each other trying so hard to understand. There are so many different languages going on in our house. Sister Noriega grew up speaking Tagalog, Sister Criste was Cebuano, Sister Yagemai was Yapese and me of course English. We are all trying so hard to learn each others languages. Its actually pretty incredible :)
It rained again this week, which is a totally heaven sent because it gives you a minute to escape the heat, but it is the most incredible thing I have ever seen. I can only imagine what the rain will be like when it is actually rainy season. Seriously it feels like the whole ocean is being dumped out of the sky. Sister Yagemai and I were walking through the rain huddled under our umbrellas, pretending they were doing something but really we were totally soaked, when all the sudden there was a big cracking sound and Sister Yagemai smashed into me. We peaked out from our umbrellas and a big banana tree and fallen over and about smashed Sister Yagemai! We were sitting there trying to figure what in the world had just happened when a little blue van pulls over and just sits there. We thought at first they were trying to give us a ride so we kept waving them ahead. Then all the sudden the back door opens and a little Pilipino man jumps out huddled under some cardboard laughs pulls a bundle of bananas off the tree and jumps back in. Sister Yagemai and I just stared at each other, like what just happened? It was pretty funny.
The other night I had come inside from helping Sister Yagemai hang up her laundry to dry and I walked past Sister Noriega. I would her say "Oh Sister..." and I turned around and she was point at my back coming at me with a hanger...well I went completely crazy! I was picturing all kinds of horrors being on my back. Haha all the sudden a lizard or like geko (I have no idea how to spell that) went flying across the room. Somehow it ended up on my back (I don't like thinking about how) and hitched a ride inside. Haha just another day in the Philippines.
The area we are working in is great! I still struggle to understand a lot with the language but the people are friendly and many are willing to help in the work. One of the sisters we always work with, Sister Vanessa, it turns out was born the same day same year as me! Twins from other sides of the world :) She is so awesome! The Pilipino people are so loving and many are receptive to the gospel but so many then become less-active so we have been focusing, and our whole mission, on reactivation. it has been so awesome visiting and teaching them. We went from having 9 less-active members at church our first Sunday to 23 our second Sunday. Seeing each of those individuals and families walk through the door on Sunday filled me with so much joy and gave me just a glimpse of what the Savoir and our Heavenly Father must feel as His children come back to the fold. This work is incredible. We have been struggling to find new investigators but we were teaching two teenage girls who are investigating and it was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. I have never seen such humble living circumstances. WE started out trying to teach in their house but it was literally a shack and there wasn't room for the 4 of us so we went outside. We were right next to the house under some banana trees on some benches which really did look beautiful but then a smell hit us and it was a pen of a bunch of pigs maybe 5 feet from their house. We had gathered quite a group of kids, who were so filthy and had sores all over their feet. The most heartbreaking was the babies, they looked so sick and uncared for. I just wanted to take each and everyone of those kids and run. I wanted to stick them in a big bubble bath, tuck them into a huge comfty bed with crisp white sheets and read them a bedtime story. But as we started the lesson by singing "I Am A Child Of God" I was completely overcome. I was touched by how much God loves ALL His children and that we aren't here as missionaries to solve their worldly needs but to fill their spiritual. We are here to bring them to a loving Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I have so many more things I want to tell you but know that I love and miss you all so much and pray for you everyday. Keep your prayers coming. I can use them all!!! Someday I will learn this language, but until then I am learning to be VERY VERY patient :)
As always, MAHAL NA MAHAL KO KAYO!
Just doing our laundry and loving life in the Philippines :) My back was SO sore the next day and my hands were raw haha it was great.
The banana tree that fell
We got to go to a big mall called SM for P-day and eat at an all you can eat buffet. It was fabulous!!!
We had crepes and thought of you mom and Saturday mornings at home :)