Well it has been a good week! We are always busy that is for sure. When rice fields are ready to be harvested they turn yellow so in this part of the world we change the scriptures and say “the field is yellow all ready to harvest.” We are teaching or studying all hours of the day, but it feels good to lay down at night knowing I gave it my all.
So the big news of the week was Quentin L. Cook visited our mission and on Saturday we all gathered in a big stake center chapel in one of the bigger cities in our mission and he and some of the 70’s spoke to us. Dad, there was a couple from NZ (I know you don’t know the entire country) but their last name was Ardern. I am assuming they have had a great deal to do with church work and so maybe you heard of them while you were there. The meeting was wonderful! When we walked in to the chapel hundreds of missionary eyes turned to us. I guess that’s what I get for being the only American sister but I could feel the sweat on my face as I tried to act normal and smile. It is just weird always having everyone looking at me. I get so self conscious even though I know everyone is nice and they are just curious. Still it is a lot of attention and sometimes I wish I would blend in just for a moment. I took a picture of a lone palm tree standing in the middle of a rice field. This is how I feel. Tall and different among the small rice plants. But we are taught “dare to stand alone.” I was called to serve here even though I am so different than everyone and its okay to be different. I can have courage haha. Anyway it was fun to be around so many missionaries – it was a fun energy that I really loved about at the MTC.
This week I have been thinking bout 10 cents. One dime. What could I do with one dime in America? Not very much, I couldn’t really buy anything with it on its own. A dime is just a small coin that usually gets put into our cup holders or change holders or wallets and we say we will use our change but most of the time it sits there and is never used. In fact if there was a dime on the ground I would maybe vacuum it up instead of bend down to pick it up. The point is - Ten cents, one dime, has always been a pretty insignificant item to me. But here its different, here I could do so much with one dime. There is a grandmother (we call all the grandma’s Nanay) named Nanay Mancin. She is so small and spindly with long black hair. She has to lean on things when she walks and is very hunched over making her already small frame appear even smaller. Nanay Mancin has a strong testimony; she told us that these last years of her life have been the best. Even though she is old, they have been the best because she has had the church and she knows her savior Jesus Christ. As strong as Nanay is she can rarely come to church because she cannot afford to pay for the travel. The fare for her travel, one way, is 8 pesos. 8 pesos equates to about 10 cents. So with all of those dimes I left sitting in my dresser drawer I could pay for Nanay to come to church over and over again.
I guess this week I have really realized how much we have. Most of our branch members walk to church each week, even though it is very far and they have small children. In many cases it is either go to church or eat; yet so many choose church. But like Nanay Mancin they say that they have the best life because they have the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are right that is all they really need, we are so blessed.
In other news, Rona’s baptism is this Saturday!!! I am so excited for her. She told me yesterday that she wants to serve a mission – this step really is only the beginning for her. (she is the little girl in a red shirt in the picture)
Fun facts: We had apartment check this week (the zone leaders come make sure we haven’t destroyed our house). House cleaning is similar to what I am used to from home….. Sweeping, mopping, putting away my things oh yeahhh….. and scrubbing geko poop off the walls. We have gekos that live in our house and they don’t bug us or anything but they poop all over our walls. Second fun fact and also the title of this email: we were eating the other night, rice (of course) with this meat and sauce on top. The meat wasn’t very good but I was a good girl and kept eating. As I was eating I noticed that the texture was kind of funny but I kept going. As we were leaving I turned to sister cabanag and asked, “sister what did we just eat.” She smiled a little nervously and replied, “liver stew.” Oh goody. So now I have officially eaten the liver of a pig. Lovely. Haha. And third fun fact everyone rides around on these things called tricies aka a motorcycle with a side car attached. They cram like 20 people on to one. It is insane!
So dad asked about what my daily schedule is…. And to sum it up…Busy. We have a goal to teach 5 lessons a day, which doesn’t always happen because I am in training still and so we have 4 hours of studying. But we are able to teach at least 3 everyday many times 5. So wake up around 6:15 and then I work out. 7am is eating usually oatmeal or banana’s (I eat these now because they are the cheapest fruit) and then into the bucket showering. 8 am is personal study from scriptures or PMG or other religious stuff. 9-11am is companionship study where we practice teaching, role play, read from PMG – they have this whole 12 week training program now that tells us exactly what to study and what I should be doing in every lesson. I am leading lessons already…. This is preemptive and isn’t on the schedule for a little while but sister Cabanag thinks it is a good idea. Mostly my thoughts about it are: I want to throw up. After Comp study we usually go to 1 or 2 lessons before lunch. Then back to the apartment for lunch and language study. Then we go out to teach for the rest of the night. Usually we get back around 8 or 8:30 and have dinner, plan for the next day, bucket shower once again, I write in my journal and passout! Our “bedtime” is 10:30 I am lucky if I can stay awake that long. I am always so tired. But that is pretty much my day every day. It is fun I really love it here! So often I find myself walking out of a really good lesson and the sun will be setting and the sky is beautiful and there are palm trees everywhere and I can’t believe I am actually here. I am a missionary. I live here. I am so lucky.
My mission president is really wonderful. He and sister Bliesner are humble and kind. They are the kind of people that don’t have a lot of “stuff” in their life. They are simple and good. I have heard a few missionaries refer to him as “strict” as I have been here longer I have interpreted this into “blunt.” He just expects us to work hard and obey the rules and he is not afraid to call you out when you have fallen a little below this standard. Sister Bliesner is happy but not over-zealous. She is sweet but has a very ‘real’ sense about her; she is not phoney or fake. She has an honesty that many women can’t attain due to the comparisons that are a problem for us females. sister bliesner isn’t trying to win any contests or be this or that. She is just kind and loving and dedicated to the Lord.
You are all the best and I am so grateful for such a wonderful family. D&C 128 talks about welding together families and I have such a strong testimony of making our families part of our foundations. It is through the turning of hearts of the fathers to their children that we better understand and carry out the plan of God. I love getting your emails every week so thanks for taking the time to write.
I love it here and the language is still such a barrier because I can't get to know anyone and I never know what anyone is talking about but its okay. I know God will help me over time, so for now I am trying to remain hopeful. Hope school is going well for everyone!
I love you and miss you and pray for you daily!
Mahal ko kayo,