Monday, January 21, 2013

Leaving Ligao

Happy birthday to Mags!!! Twenty years old. So great! Makes me actually feel kind off old but that’s okay. My birthday wish for you is that you become fluent in Spanish while you are in Puerto Rico – actually nah cause then you won’t have the great stories from the first few months of mission life. Hah I think about those first days that I had no clue what was going. My trainer would look at me indicating that it was my turn to talk and I would realize that I had been watching the spider in the corner instead of pretending to listen. Haha! Oh mission life, so great!

Thanks for the updates on the trip to Puerto Rico! I am glad you are staying on the beach and can hear the waves. We are not near the beach so I listen to the rain when I go to sleep. Mom, I bet it is so fun to be in the area? I was thinking today how I have to get back here. I am so glad you have made it back to your mish. I bet the smells and the streets bring it all back. I wish I was there with you just because I would be so excited with you because now I understand how much those streets and those smells and especially those people meant to you. It is such a big part of you..... I was thinking the other day about how I now understand why you wanted us to go on missions. It becomes a part of you that you could never fully explain! It is so great and I am so excited for Meg and Speen!!!

Well I have been singing the tag line to the pull-ups commercials all weekend, “I’m a big kid now.” I am in the midst of experiencing my first transfer. On Saturday morning we received a text message saying, “Transferred: Sister Christensen. Be at the Ligao chapel at 9 am Tuesday morning.” Sister Dumo says your first transfer makes you feel like a real missionary because you pack everything up and move to a new place (hence the pull ups tagline.) They don’t tell us where we are being transferred. We actually find out when we step out of the van and they introduce us to our new companion. I think they secretly enjoy watching all the missionaries guess where they are going and who their new best friend will be. My guess is that I will go north and be the follow up to a Sister that just finished training.. just a guess though

Although it is exciting going to a new place, it has been a difficult weekend. It is almost breaking my heart to say bye to these people that I love so much. Yesterday I spoke in church and it was a water show for sure. I have learned so much here in Ligao and it feels like I am leaving home again but it could be years before I make it back here, if I do have the chance to return. For nearly 6 months I have prayed for my friends here daily and worried about them and now I have to say good bye. I remember in my first few weeks in the field I spent a lot of time on my knees trying to understand why I was sent to a place that I could not speak the language and communicate with the people. Although I have known for a while, this weekend was a strong answer to that prayer. I know I needed to be here because of the way these people have strengthened ME and MY testimony. I know I am supposed to be the giver, the teacher, but I have gained so much more from these loving Ligao saints than I could ever give to them.

Elder Antoine R. Ivins said, “The great value, I believe, that the church has for us is the opportunity it gives us to serve, for, after all, the great benefits of life come from service. Generous, open-hearted, full service to our fellows.”

After church one of our members came up to me, we embraced and in a quiet whisper she said thank you. We both stood there in that quiet chapel and cried. One of the most beautiful blessings of the mission is being able to serve people and love them. They have served me as they have been patient with my Tagalog, listened in lessons, fed us in their homes and treated us as family. It is hard to say good bye; more difficult than I anticipated, but I am grateful for the relationships I have made. I have been reminded how short the time is here and of the importance of giving my best regardless of how crappy my Tagalog is or how well I know the area. I am going to try to keep that in mind as I travel off to a new landscape. I guess it is time to put on my pull-ups and grow through new experiences.

On another note this morning I woke up early wanting to be organized and avoid the stressful midnight packing panic, I also wanted to wash my laundry so that it would have plenty of time to dry. For clarification: washing my clothes includes a process where I squat on the bathroom floor (our stool is broken) with two basins at my side. One basin is for my soapy clothes the other basin has clean water. After I scrub the soapy clothing they must be rinsed three separate times to remove all the detergent. It is quite the process. I will never again take for granted a washing machine and on this day a dryer. I hung the clothes out early so I wouldn’t have to pack soggy skirts for the transfer. This morning was sunny and warm, prime clothing drying weather, when out of nowhere the rain came, as only Filipino rain does and soaked everything. So much for trying to be organized - hah.

When you said Spencer and Owen have been trying to climb the coconut trees, there are coconut trees everywhere you look here... The locals are professional at climbing the coconut trees even though sometimes they are 30 ft plus high.... they are nuts. There are also hundreds and hundreds of banana trees. There are around 10 different kinds of banana, who knew! And over the last six months I have learned many creative recipes that include bananas or Saging as we call them here. I was not a fan of bananas back in the SLC but I learned real quick to like them here. My favorite kind are small and fat and you boil them and eat them while they are super hot. This week we were visiting one of our investigators, an elderly woman of about 65. She wasn’t at home when we first got there but after a few moments she came walking down the hill behind their small bamboo home with a 2 foot stack of banana’s on her head that she had just cut down. I could hardly lift the pile up and yet Nanay had no problem hauling it on top of her noggin. I am never ceased to be amazed.

We are having a good bye FHE tonight at the Datoon’s even though we were there last night for dinner, haha. It will be fun - just hard to say good-bye. President Datoon is our Branch president, his sister is in the RS presidency, and her husband is the District President. They are incredible.

Well that’s all the news from this week. As always I love you and am grateful for you. Be safe and have a blast in PR!

One last time - love from Ligao. I will write you next week from some new place.

Sister C

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