Monday, November 26, 2012

A Taste of Gratitude and Spooky Spiders

Family Dear!

Well happy belated Thanksgiving! Our Thanksgiving here was just great….. we worked and taught, I struggled through Tagalog and we had another day as missionaries. During my personal study I took dads challenge and wrote out 100 things I am grateful for. It was a neat experience to focus on the abundance of blessings in my life. As I looked over my list I realized that my old cell phone, car or clothes other than my 6 skirts did not make the cut. Of course I am grateful for those things and they are wonderful but what I am most grateful for are the people who bring my life joy. Living in a different country is a unique experience and one aspect is the connections I have made and the people that are woven into my life. It is interesting creating such tight bonds with individuals that I do not know when or if I will see again. After my short 18 months, my relationships with these wonderful people could be only via internet connection. It is because of this time constraint that I have realized the beauty of the time we are allotted. Whether it is concerning my family members to whom I am sealed for eternity or a young 10 year old that I had the opportunity to teach for a few months – the time and effort I put into these relationships is important and valuable. Thank you for the time and love you have given to me; it means more than you know. As a side note, I am also grateful for Thanksgiving because I had to speak in church yesterday and used gratitude as my topic. My prayer is always the same, that some of my Tagalog made sense.

There are many things I am grateful for in this wonderful city that is filled with banana trees and little brown faces. This letter is a few things I am grateful for this week.

I am grateful for the fireflies that fill the coconut trees at night. Our area is very large and frequently there is not transportation available; so we spend a lot of time walking. As we walk through dark paths lit only by the moon and the glittering fire flies above our heads, I feel the sweetness of the spirit.

I am grateful for the innocence and goodness of children. We focus a great deal on reactivating less active members which results in completing families. Many of the baptisms I have been able to be a part in have been those of 9, 10, and 11 year olds. This week we met with a young 16 year old girl. She doesn’t know about the gospel but she believes that there is something of a higher power. Her father passed away a few years ago and she feels that he is being taken care of somewhere.

I am grateful for the contagious energy of hard work. The leaders of the church here amaze me. In our branch the leaders have a zeal for the gospel that is hard to ignore. They believe in their members and they believe in their God. The young women’s president is a single returned missionary. She volunteers her Saturdays to teach institute and seminary. She prepares activities for the young women and is devoted to building up a generation of active youth in the Philippines.

I am grateful for prayer and the peace that comes through quietly kneeling before my father each day.

I am grateful for the counsel that comes from the Book of Mormon. How lucky we are to have the restored church on earth once more. We have the power of a Father’s priesthood blessing available to us at any moment. We know of Christ and the person he was, the traits he possessed through the text of the Book of Mormon.

And ultimately I am grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. We are going into the Christmas season with all its glitter and excitement. I love Christmas time; even miles away from home in the land of no winter wonderland, I still feel the magic of the season. This weekend in the town centro fireworks were sent off and a giant plastic tree was lit with Christmas lights. There are twinkle lights hanging from the trees and sister Dabon is teaching me Christmas songs in Tagalog. It is an incredible time of year to think of Christ and focus on his life. I do know that my Redeemer lives and for that knowledge I am so very grateful.

Well I hope you all had a wonderful week and enjoyed some turkey dinner… we didn’t eat any turkey but as we were walking through the jungle on Saturday a group of wild Turkeys puffed up their chests and ran at us. Luckily human legs are faster than turkey legs - but it was a frightening experience.

It looks like you guys had a ton of fun at Newport! It feels like we were there a few days ago. Owen is sooo darn tall, I can hardly stand it. Please stop growing O. How was the weather? How was turkey day? How did Cate’s Soccer Tournament go?

My comp goes home in less than 3 weeks! It is crazy. Luckily she is still focusing on the work; which is a blessing. She jokes about being "trunky" or wanting to go home but she is joking only. We have so much fun! I am not ready to train. The big news is that WE HAVE SIX AMERICAN SISTERS COMING IN AT ONE TIME IN APRIL!!!!! ahhhh yay!! I was talking to pres at zone con and he said he wants me to do a little orientation for them about the transition into the Pines. It was helpful talking to the elders who had learned the language and adjusted but it would have been so so nice to have had a girl to talk to. So I hope I can be that for them!

 The culture has never really been a big problem for me. I don’t think I had culture shock really. Of course it is always a change but it wasn’t ever bad. You miss things from home but then I just try to remind myself it will be there when i get back. The language was and still is the hardest thing. It is coming bit by bit. Sister Dabon is awesome - she always quizzes me as we are walking for miles and miles and I have a goal to read through the Book of Mormon in a 3.5 month span which is hard but it helps with vocab more than i thought it would. After I spoke yesterday one of the ladies told me "magaling ka," which means talented. That is always a boost. Overall, I have a long way to go but it comes a little more every day. I take English scriptures to the lessons because I can’t understand it all in Tag yet; but my goal is to take only Tag by the end of my mission. We actually sing English hymns in our branch. Sister D said in her last area it was all tagalog so it depends on the area. Some areas it is all Bikkol.  I pray I stay away from those for a little while - haha. We always sing tagalog hymns for comp study and sister dab taught me a bunch of Christmas tag songs so we are constantly singing those.

Mom asked if I am near the beach.  I am not and we aren’t allowed to cross areas so I haven’t seen the beach yet. I have heard that it is really pretty. There is a sisters’ area on the beach up north so my fingers are crossed for that one day.

Story of the week: Last night I walked up the stairs to our apartment bedroom and found the largest spider I have ever seen waiting on our wall. Sister Dabon and I then ran around our room with magazines on our head so it wouldn’t jump on us. Yes, giant Filipino spiders could play for the NBA they can jump so high. We eventually threw things at it until it jumped on the ground where we proceeded to drown the creature in bug killer. The makers of Harry Potter must have studied large spiders because the eight legs on our wall last night sounded exactly like the spider in Harry Potter. We felt bad for killing it but I am pretty sure it was either him or us and we already paid the water bill for the month, so we won.

Well I love you all and of course on my list on 100 things I am most grateful for are you! Thank you for your love and prayers. Have a wonderful week. Padaba ko ika! (I love you in Bikol)

Love from the Pines,

Sister Meish
this is how most of my days end up... with a trail of little guys following us shouting whats your name?

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