Sleeping on the Job - In the Pines, everyone has a hammock and they just carry them around and put them up when ever and where ever if they are sleepy.
Happy All Saints Day! This is the Halloween substitute in the pines. All Saints Day is actually celebrated on November 1st. Apparently everyone goes to spend the night in the cemeteries on Oct 31st and Nov 1st, so we have been given a 6pm curfew this week so that we won't be on the streets after dark. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned what Filipino cemeteries are like but they are very different than ours back in the states. Because of the constant rain that the Philippines receives the ground is very soft meaning that all coffins are encased in cement boxes and are above ground. In the cemeteries there are rows and rows of white cement boxes stacked on top of one another. I am excited to experience a Filipino Halloween.
This picture is of one of our investigators who got baptized on saturday. we took them lunch this week as a surprise (they dont have very much to eat ever) it was so fun! they are so humble and grateful!
Well, I survived my first intense typhoon . Wednesday and Thursday consisted of dark clouds and gloomy weather, the kind of weather that makes you want to curl up and read a good book. The gloomy weather quickly turned into heavy rain and strong wind that caused the trees to blow horizontal. Being misionaries we in fact could not curl up and read a good book, so after we finished our studying we went out to battle the storm. On Wednesday night we were walking home from our appointments with our destination being the grocery store when the rain really started to come down. The lights were all out in the surrounding neighborhood because of the storm and the streets had turned into a ghost town due to the strength of the rain. Two sister missionaries were the only ones to be seen walking down a pitch black road, hand in hand, with our umbrellas out in front of us trying to combat the rain and wind – laughing the whole way. By the time we reached the grocery store the top of my skirt was its original light blue while the bottom was dark blue and heavy with rain water. Good times!
We have tried to have a family home evening at least once a week with a family in our area. This week we met with the Llorin family. The two young boys ages 9 and 12 are investigators. The 9 year old was baptized on Saturday! The 12 year old had a horrible fever and much to his disappointment his baptism will have to wait until next week. But the FHE turned out to be really fun! Around nine of the neighborhood children joined the family of 5 boys so we had a full house. We taught the story of David and Goliath and cut out stones from paper and had the kids write 5 things they can use in their life to fight their own personal Goliath. I thought about how the little simple ‘stones’ in our lives really do create the foundation and the security for us to call upon in times of need.
The baptism on Saturday was wonderful. There was a great support there from the Branch and the Young Men’s president, Brother Armel, was the one to baptize the four kids. Brother Armel is a convert and not married so this was the first time he was able to perform a baptism and it was a neat experience to watch him use his priesthood on such a monumental day for these four children. After the baptism we had our branch family home evening which turned out to be a great success! We don’t have a budget so the branch couldn’t shoulder food costs so we had everyone bring one kilogram of food. Every one was also supposed to bring one non member friend or a less active member of our branch. There weren’t as many non members present but so many less active members came and got involved. It was a wonderful opportunity for branch bonding – I realized how important fellowshipping in the church is. We all want to feel included and we all need a friend, it is a basic human characteristic no matter where you are in the world. One thing I have learned about Filipinos is they love their snacks! I was manning the juice station at the FHE and when the green light was given to go get food I feared for my life. Men, women and children of all ages charged at me for cups and juice – I have never seen such enthusiasm for food.
Well my 12 weeks training has come and gone. All morning Sister Cabanag has been packing up her things. She is being transferred somewhere and I am staying here in Ligao. I am glad at least the streets and people will remain familiar for another six weeks but it is time for a new companion, new growth, new challenges, and new memories. I am nervous. I will be expected to know who to visit. I will need to lead planning sessions and lead discussions. A greater responsibility now stares me straight in the eyes. As I have thought about what is coming I have realized how little Tagalog I actually know. But the mission is not designed to be easy, quite contrary I believe it is meant to test us – it is soul stretching – it challenges every part of you. There are no time outs, water breaks or long weekends to rest your muscles. Yes it is challenging, but I believe that is why nearly every missionary returns home proclaiming it was the best two years (18 months). I know that the next few weeks will be yet another adjustment period but I also know that my Heavenly Father will be there with me every step of the way. If the workers in the rice fields can bend over for hours and hours in the hot sun harvesting their food; if nine year old Patrick Pedris can walk 45 minutes into the mountains to get fire wood, if countless members give their time and energy to the Ligao 1st branch I can be successful too. One of my favorite quotes is about the pioneer saints stating, “the task ahead of them was never as great as the power behind them.” This is gods work and I know he will not let his missionaries fail.
Fun facts and figures about the Pines: 1) They love basketball only secondly to rice in the list of ‘greatest things that ever happened to planet earth. 2) All the missionaries think that because I am from Salt Lake City I naturally know personally all of the apostles and prophet personally. 3) When you buy soda they pour it out of the bottle and into a plastic bag with a straw and that is what you take to drink. 4) 70 degrees is freezing cold! When the typhoon hit I wore a cardigan every day and a long sleeved shirt at night. I don’t know if I will be able to live in Salt Lake again.
Well I hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween! I want to see pictures of all the costume choices. Speen, your life will change this week with the coming of your call! Of course my fingers are crossed for Naga! I love you all thanks for your prayers, emails and loving support - it means so much to me! Oh yeah and of course …GO TEAM ROMNEY!
Love from the Pines –