Well it was a wonderful conference weekend! Conference was broadcasted to our chapel here in Ligao so we didn’t have to travel far. All the sessions were broadcasted in English and although I personally appreciated it I wish it would have been in Tagalog. A lot of our members have a difficult time understanding the broadcasts in English but the Tagalog versions are reserved for the stakes. Hopefully one day Ligao will be a stake and can have Tagalog general conference. There were 12 missionaries that came to our chapel to watch conference, Sister Cabanag made chicken curry for everyone to eat on Sunday afternoon in between the two sessions. It was the largest pot of chicken curry I have ever seen! It was a fun conference and one I will always remember. I particularly enjoyed Elder Uchtdorf’s talk on Regret and Elder Eyring’s talk about not hiding under the pavilions in our lives. I also had a strong impression about the importance of journal writing while President Monson shared the meticulous details of stories from his past. I have tried to write in my journal each day and as I have been able to go back and read through the short 2 months I have been here I am grateful for the memories my pen remembered that I have already forgotten.
A large chunk of our area continues to be in a ‘brown-out’ (where there is no electricity) every night. Our area is very large and we do a lot of walking. In order to use our precious time to the best of our abilities we have found several nifty shortcuts linking us to different barangys. One such short cut is along the irrigation ditch of a rice field. Earlier this week we set out on this irrigation ditch around seven pm, it was a cloudy dark sky above us. Without the help of the moon and our destination neighborhood being black due to the lack of electricity we walked along this narrow ditch by only the light of one small flashlight. On one side of me was a river, on the other was a deep rice field, meaning falling would not end well on either side. Sister Cabanag walked in front of me carrying the light. If I stayed close to her and kept my eyes focused on the exact spot she stepped I was able to walk fine. If I looked up or to either side I was a gonner in that black abyss. We continued to walk, when out of nowhere, a caribou grazing in the water lifted his head and snorted about 1 foot away from us. Both of us screamed and jumped backwards! I don’t know how we didn’t tumble off the rocks but we managed to stay balanced. My heart beat has never been stronger. As we continued to walk through the blackened barangay, we passed a home that had candles glimmering everywhere. There was a coffin in the middle of the yard signifying a funeral and it would have been a very eerie moment if it were not for the loud karaoke that was in process. Apparently karaoke is the funeral activity of choice here.
We have been teaching most of our evening lessons in the candle light because of the noted brownout. Although it makes scripture reading difficult the spirit in the lessons usually take on a girls’ camp feeling and it is a neat experience.
I received your birthday package this week! Thank you very much! I haven’t had American candy for quite some time and it tastes delish. It is currently sitting in our small refrigerator and every time I open our fridge I think…. That is a very happy fridge!
Earlier this week we were sitting, once again in the light of a small flashlight and were teaching a young mother and her three children. The mother and sister Cabanag began talking about the baptism of her young daughter. I knew they were talking about this young girl, baptism and a problem the grandmother had about the situation. I was having a difficult time following the conversation due to the lack of traditional church words. Sister Cabanag suddenly turned to me, queuing me to speak. In all honesty I didn’t know what we were talking about; I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. I paused for several seconds before I began and offered a silent one lined prayer to my father in heaven. I then proceeded to speak. I don’t really know what I said but I do know that I was able to say something and in that moment I was ever grateful for my saviors watchful care over me. This small miracle of speach was a perfect reminder to me that God will help us. Like president Monson noted in conference, “God is in the details of our lives.” I feel that God is in the details of my mission.
We have exchanges this coming week. I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t at least a little nervous. We are staying in our area meaning I will need to lead the other sister around and know where to go and who to visit. No comfort zones here we go again. It will be good practice though with transfers right around the corner. I stay here for another transfer i will need to be able to do this anyway so might as well start practicing now. The sisters we are going on exchanges with are wonderful so it will be fun to switch up our teaching.
One of the investigators we are working with right now owns a large rice field. On Wednesday we passed the basketball court where he and several workers were shoveling up the dried rice grains. I stopped and asked if we could lend him a hand. I have a video of me shoveling the rice which I will try to drop the into my account in skybox. Hopefully it works! All of the workers were cheering me on. I don’t think they could believe I was helping. The mission never has a drought of excitement.
As I walk through the rows of dead fish in the wet market, sit on the dirt floors of small banana leaf roofed huts, or ride through the city in crowded tricey’s, I think to myself, I would not want to be anywhere else in the world! Mission life is incredible and I am so grateful to be a part of it. Good luck Meg and Speen as you begin the grand adventure!
Well the church is true and I love you all dearly! Cate - good luck with the big game(s) this week! Take it all the way girl! Wish I could be there – I am cheering loudly from across the ocean. Owen, you are a giant – quit growing up.
Love from the Pines,