Well, today is my first p-day in the Philippines I can’t tell you how good it was to read your email. Thank you thank you for the emails dad! It has been a crazy week to say the least but I am alive and fairly well haha no, I am doing good! So first off I am so glad I was able to talk to you at the airport! IWow! This is a crazy adventure to say the least. So last Wednesday we arrived in Manila and it was pouring rain! They were not lying when they said there is nothing like Filipino rain. I said bye to sister J which was rough, I miss her a lot! But then we (Naga missionaries) crammed into a van and were dropped off at the airport hotel. It was me and 5 elders – oh boy. They were great but I was super nervous because the idea of being alone all day in a room by myself in this foreign land was not sounding very appealing. But luckily all the missionaries leaving Naga to go home were there and there were 2sisters so I was able to stay with them. We got to the hotel around noon but because of the rain we had to stay inside all day. It was a battle to not fall asleep, I was so turned around time wise but it was fun talking to the sisters about Naga. The floods in Manila were crazy! I think they have stopped now and luckily that storm did not hit Naga. Actually it has only rained once the whole time I have been here.
The next day we had orientation with President and Sister Bliesner. Then we met our trainers (aka new appendage for the next 3 months). I have a wonderful new appendage! My companions name is Sister Cabanag. She is Filipino and has been out for 10months and is from Cebu. She is very patient with me and speaks really good English which is a blessing. Mostly she talks to me in Tagalog and then waits for me to figure out what she is saying. I am grateful to her though, she pushes me and expects me to speak in every lessons multiple times. It is scary – every time I have to speak my stomach drops - but I know this will help me learn quicker. She really is so kind and positive and has a lot of faith in me so that helps. Our area is called Ligao and is absolutely beautiful! There are tons of rice fields, jungles and it is right next to the volcano!
Our house is pretty nice and very safe! It is back behind this gate where there are 4 other homes so if anyone tried to break in people would see. Both, The other sisters as well as the missionary couple live next to us. Our apartment is very hot all of the time but we have3 fans that we have going whenever we are in the house. There is a water filter and I have not gotten sick yet so that is such a blessing! There are a lot of spiders in all of the ceiling corners but they don’t bug us if we don’t bug them. It is funny how your standards of living change. Also I am pretty sure who ever wrote the song “the ants go marching” lived in the Philippines. Haha there are ants everywhere. And they decided to make a nice little house in my clothes so last night we had to shake everything out and spray my shelf with rubbing alcohol so they would not come back. I was laughing so hard the whole time. Oh mission life, you are crazy! You can kind of see the toilet in the back ground of one of the pictures but there is no toilet seat and it doesn’t flush, you have to dump a bucket of water in to flush it. And yes, that is the same bucket we use to shower. We have a little spigot in our bathroom that we fill the bucket with and we just stand in the middle of the bathroom and pour really cold water on our heads. The water takes my breath every time. Sister Cabang laughed at me when I asked how to use the CR (bathroom) and to shower she always tells me that she is proud of me for adapting so well. I am so grateful that I went to Peru and have seen severe poverty before because it has helped so much with the culture shock. I really have not had a difficult time adapting to the culture it is pretty easy to love because the people are so kind and the area is so beautiful. It is hot hot all the time and I am constantly sweaty just like everyone said I would.
Last week we taught 16 lessons. Mostly we are teaching inactive members. There is a real problem with people being baptized and then not coming to church. There are various reasons for this though. Some people just don’t care and do not want to come. Others cannot afford to travel that far, many of our members have children and it is just too expensive for them to all come to church. Some families have to take turns and one child goes to church one week at a time. One couple does not have a lock on their door of their home and so they cannot both be gone at the same time because they are worried their house will be broken into. I have not seen their house but Sister Cabanag said it is a very nice bamboo home. Most of the homes here are dirt floors but they all sweep their floors so there are never any leaves or twigs. They make do with the best they can.
In my first lesson we visited a less active family. We had to cross a large river and in order todo so we sat on a boat made out of bamboo strapped together and a patio chairs trapped on. Then a teenage boy pulled us across the way. When we got to the other side we followed a winding path through a jungle of vines and palm trees to a small bamboo home. While we were walking back we (well I attracted a crowd of about 15 children who trailed behind us yelling “hello, what is your name?” that is all they know how to say.) We sat on a wooden bench and taught a lesson to a dad and his stubborn daughter. The chickens pecked the ground around my feet, the children sat behind starring wide eyed at this white tall stranger and Sister Juliet had tears streaming down her face. Sister Juliet is very stubborn and will not come to church and apparently usually will not talk with the missionaries. Today for some reason she talked with us and the spirit talked to her. It was a great first lesson.
Well dad, you pretty much nailed it on the head in your last email. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life! Mostly the largest difficulty for me is the language. I knew it would be difficult but no one can prepare you for the humbling experience I have begun. The words patience, longsuffering and temperance do a pretty good job at summing up what my last 5 days have been. It is scary to speak but I am doing my best. It is also difficult feeling overwhelmingly on the outside of this world. I do not know if I will ever be able to go to a zoo again without crying for the animals because I feel like a polar bear at the zoo. I mostly have to smile and watch a world that I do not understand. I try to remind myself that it will come and that all things take time but it is difficult when the light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away. Right now I am trying to foster the mind set of ‘fake it till you make it.’ The overwhelming feelings win out sometimes and all I can do is drop to my knees and beg my Lord and Savior to help me and lift me. I know this is all part of the experience. Sister Cabang says she thinks I will have the language in about 3 or 4 months and that I am learning fast. I had to bare my testimony yesterday in church and everyone said they could not believe I had only been here for 4 days. I think they were just being nice, but all I can say is thank goodness for the gift of tongues!I do love it here even though it is difficult. I am the only American sister and will be until December. Many of the children have never seen a white person. What’s more American than baseball? I am I am I am! There are no white people here, just me. And no blonde people here. Just me. It is actually really funny to watch people’s faces as we go by. Everyone just stares and then I greet them in Tagalog and their jaws drop.
The sisters tell me I look like Barbie and that they want my hair. Also everyone here is sooootiny!!! I am a giant – huge! Haha it is a sight. As difficult as it is a keep reminding myself of the answer I received to come on a mission. I know this is where should be and am happy to do what I can to serve the Lord even though I am not very good atTagalog. The field is white and ready to harvest and there are extremely faithful people here who are humbly giving all they have to the lord.
Thank you so much for sending the granola bars in the MTC. They have saved me! I eat oatmeal with brown sugar every breakfast and then rice rice, rice for every other meal! But the granola bars have been a comforting piece of home. I am glad I brought pictures of home, everyone loves to see them.
Sorry this is so long, but you know me….. I always want to share every part of everything with you! Thank you for the prayers. They are so needed and very felt. I miss you all but would not want to be anywhere else.
the pics are of the rain in manila, me washing my clothes in a bucket and our house.