Monday, July 29, 2013

The rains came down and the floods came up…

Last week I said a bunch of stuff how the typhoon was nothing, but this week the rainy season really started.  Karma is real (Not really, that is totally false doctrine).  I will quote Doctrine and Covenants 127:2, “But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in.”  It rains about every day here, and when it rains, it pours. 
I have had another really great week in San Nicolas.  There are so many people here who are receptive to the message and who are prepared to hear it!  I had a great experience on exchanges with Sister Quiles, who taught me a lot.  She is a great example of an obedient, organized, and spiritual missionary and I am now trying to use some of her techniques in my own planning and teaching with Sister Abuel. 
I want to expand on my previous cultural lesson of the week on food.  First, we eat here with a spoon and a fork or with our hands.  I am not good at either of these: my spoon always ends up in my left hand and eating rice with your hands…the mental picture should suffice.  Also, whole fish…like eyes and everything.  This is so good and I have had it a bunch of times, but I always end up eating the bones.  Some of the Filipinos here think that if you put a fish spine in your hair after eating a fish bone, it will help the bone get out of your throat.  Yeah, I don’t get it either. 
This week’s Filipino word is “kwan.”  “Kwan” has absolutely no meaning and I learned all about it at the MTC, but I did not realized how ridiculous it was until I got here and heard it used.  “Kwan” can be a verb, noun, adjective, adverb…whatever, and it is used when someone forgets a word or needs a second to think of a word.  Let my Englishify “kwan:” I was kwaning over there at the kwan but there was no kwan so I had to kwan but it was already kwaned too.  Now this is an extreme example, but you get the idea.  It is really funny when it is used, but it is totally pointless and just adds to the difficulty of communicating in the extremely broken and confusing Tagalog/Illocano/English language that is spoken in Ilocos Norte. 
Sister Abuel and I have many people to teach, but I have learned this week that there is a great need to be efficient in the work of the Lord.  We received a referral to teach Omar and his family a few weeks ago but it had taken us a long time to find where he lived.  We eventually found his house, but we only had our first opportunity to teach them on Saturday.  It was disappointing to hear that they had been baptized into different church on Thursday.  We feel as though we were just too late.  We will still teach them, but it will be difficult to show them that the fullness of the gospel is within our church.  I pray that their hearts will become softened and that we as missionaries will be able to testify through the Spirit the importance of this restored gospel.
Although that was a disappointing experience, I have also noticed that small miracles can be found easily each day in the life of a missionary.  Possibly the best part of my week was when we taught RJ about the commandments.  He is a very open investigator who is willing to do what he has to do to come unto Christ.  While discussing modesty, he took his earring out right in front of us.  This small action showed to me how faith in the Lord and his doctrine will lead a person to become obedient and happy.
I am grateful to be a missionary.  I am grateful to be serving the Lord.  I did not love my mission when I entered the MTC and I did not love my mission when I got here to the Philippines, but I love my mission now.  I love the culture, I love the lifestyle, and most importantly, I love these people.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Magandang araw!

This week has been super amazing!  We have found many new investigators and committed many people to become baptized.  The people of Ilocos Norte are being prepared to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.   One of our new investigators is Brother Benedict.  He is 21 and has only had two lessons so far, but he wants to serve a mission!  The Spirit is strong during all of our lessons, but especially during his. 
Also, I have officially survived a typhoon.  It was actually really disappointing.  I said, "I survived the Nashville Flood and that is all you are going to give me?"  It was seriously nothing.  It is rainy season, though, and it rains usually for a short time each day.  If anyone out there wants so send me another pair of Crocs flats, feel free!
Today's cultural tidbit will be concerning the topic of food.  We eat rice here all day every day.  I like rice, but I am American and rice makes White people fat.  Also, they fry so much food here.  Kitchens usually only have one heat source which is small gas cook top.  No ovens, no microwaves, no toasters really.  We eat at the Augustin family's home about every day because we are teaching like a bazillion people there.  Nanay Ningning is about the best chef ever and always cooks yummy veggies and meat for us.  Too bad she feeds until we cannot breath.  We are not allowed to eat the street food here because it is super dirty, but we may or may not have had some given to us from a member this week.  So fried....and so unhealthy. 
This whole picture thing is kinda tricky so if no pictures come this week, my apologies.  I have become an amazing spectacular animal photographer, but you will just have to wait and see for yourselves. 
I hope that you are all happy and healthy.  What a blessing it is to know of the truthfulness of the gospel.
Ingat po kayo!

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Today was a really amazing week.  We started the week with only one progressing investigator but we now have eleven progressing investigators, seven of which have committed to baptism.  I am learning how active the Lord is in the lives of the people here; He is preparing so many to hear the gospel.  It is simply our job as missionaries to find those who He has prepared.  We have made a lot of progress also with the ward missionaries who are now very helpful.  When they work with us, we have a lot of success.  Life here is better each day.  The people are so humble and kind.  I am glad that I have been called to serve in the Laoag Mission.

I tried to attach a picture of Julie and I but this ghetto computer cafe does not like me.  I will try to send it next week.  We found her this week and she has been receptive to our message.  She also fed me until I about exploded and made me sing her Happy Birthday because I supposed look like Taylor Swift (all Filipinos call all American girls Taylor Swift).

I have also become very talented at pretending to understand Tagalog.  I can understand most conversations by this point, but people still make fun of me when I try to speak, because my Filipina accent is non-existent.
Today's Filipino cultural lesson will be about public transportation.  We walk a few miles each day but we rely on public transportation a lot also.  Tricycles are the most fun, ghetto, and scary form of transportation- there is a motorcycle and attached to the side is a cab that fits 4 Filipinos or 1 American.  It is usually 10 pesos for a ride and it is the only air conditioning you will find here.  There are also jeepneys which we do not often take- they are tricked out buses which you climb in through the back.  Also, if anyone out there is ever planning on coming out here and driving, there are two rules of the road: fill in all the gaps and drive in as many lanes at one time as possible.  I am not even sure if there is a traffic light in all of Ilocos Norte. 
I love you all!  The Church is so true!  I want to here how you are all doing!  You can dearelder me or write me for real :

Sister Leah Copeland
Philippines Laoag Mission
Brgy. 50 Buttong, Airport Avenue
Junction Tangid Road, Laoag City 2900
Llocos Norte, Philippines
Mahal ko kayo!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm in the Philippines!

This week has been a really great one for me! We were fed tons of McDonald's when we arrived at the mission home and it was nice to have a real shower for the two days there.   I feel as though I have already learned so much here in San Nicolas! I must admit that the first night in the field was extremely hard for me, but as I prayed for strength in the coming days, I felt the hand of the Lord reaching out to me. Since the first day, I have felt great happiness and excitement as I have begun my work here. The members are so kind and willing to listen to me. Although I have a lot of growth ahead of me as a teacher and I cannot easily understand the people, I feel a strong connection to all of them. This has been such a blessing for me which I feel a great gratitude for.
Let's talk culture. 
1.  I am stared at 24/7 here.  My favorite nicknames so far are "white sugar,"  "Sister Swift," and "Princess."  Also, the people here have crazy names, especially the members.  Some examples are "Brother Brightly Beams" (yes, like the hymn) and "Anti-Nephi-Lehi."
2. I have been able to speak English some.  A lot of people know very little and they want to learn more so they like when I speak in English.  Some cannot understand any English, though, and I try to speak as much Tagalog as possible to improve my language skills.  When I do speak English, the joke is that people get bloody noses from thinking so hard to understand the English. And this area is very I need to learn that language eventually, but I will focus on Tagalog first.
3. Filipinos are tone deaf.  It is crazy.  And I have already been assigned as ward pianist and I will be giving weekly piano lessons to the members.
4.  WE HAVE A MALL, PEOPLE!  The only one around.  My area is a city and is right next to Laoag.  

On Saturday, Sister Ningning was baptized. She has such a sweet spirit and even though I was not a participant in her conversion, I am so happy to be able to teach her now. I feel the Lord present in my life as well as the lives of the members here. The leaders of the ward have work today and I hope that I can encourage the ward missionaries to become more active. We have about 600 inactive families within our ward; these people need the gospel in their lives and it is our responsibility to work as a team in bringing them back to Christ. I am also happy that I can assist the ward in teaching weekly piano lessons. I have talents that I can share to help those around me.

The Church is different here than where I am from, but the doctrines are identical. I know the Church is true and I have an extreme amount of gratitude to be able to help strengthen all of those around me. Sister Abuel is an amazing teacher and mentor...even though she is super tiny. She is kind as she teaches me about the culture and the things that I must do to improve. I am glad to have her as a companion and I now that I am being taught by the Lord through her.
I am going to try to attach some pictures!  The two buckets in our bathroom make up our shower and just so you know, the tap water is brown here.  The food is also super scary looking but it has all been really good so far.  And just FYI, I think that I am going to get fat much food all of the time!
I love you all and thanks for all of the support!  There is so much work to be done here in establishing the Gospel, but with Christ by my side,  I can help others come to know the truth!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

T-minus two days! Kumusta sa lahat!

To start out with the weekly shout outs- I FINALLY SAW BEN RAYMOND THIS WEEK!  It was so great to talk to him as the stud missionary he is!  I also say Collie Martin out of the corner of my eye at the broadcast.  I feel as though the entire BYU Contemporary Dance Department arrived to the MTC this week because I have seen tons of dancers that I accompanied in classes the past two semesters.  Also, Kelsey Hibbs was looking beautiful as always working at the MTC this week and I got some waves from Elder Ballard and Elder Anderson as they were leaving the MTC campus on Wednesday.  Also, Elder Ryan Knecht and Sister Alex Ahmu are doing great.  And Peter, I met a Korean teacher here who saw my tag and asked me if I had a brother.  He said that he heard your farewell testimony in Long Beach and was really touched by it.  His name is Brother Jeon and he said you probably would not know him, though.  And all you Nashvillians watch out,  I met some hispanohablantes that are coming your way; they have been reassigned while they wait for their visas for Argentina. 
Also, a major shout out goes to Kellee Cunningham this week.  The package filled with my favorite cereal and oh so delicious applesauce made me very happy and made my companions question what kind of friends I had at home.  I win the award for recieving the most unique and healthy package during our MTC stay.  My favorite part was the amount of crumbs inside the envelope that escaped the bag of cerealand  which are now covering my bed. 
So, let us talk about the amazing worldwide broadcast last Sunday!  It was so amazing to take part in the 2,500 member choir and listen to the words of the Apostles and Prophet.  Revolutionary changes are being made to missionary work which are allowing more and more people to learn of Christ!  It was especially exciting to hear about the introduction of Facebook and blogging to the mission world, especially after seeing the success that Facebook and blogging has had in the Nashville Mission.  Also, I thank you for all the exciting letters that I recieved telling me that I was shown quite a few times during the broadcast!  I know I was looking good...
Missionary work is changing.  More people are being prepared to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and God is sending His children to teach the restored gospel everywhere.  I am more thankful each day for my opportunity to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As I have began to pack my things, I have had time to reflect on the past six weeks.  I am becoming more converted each day; I am learning to turn outward to others when I would prefer to turn inward to myself.  The gospel is true because God is our loving Heavenly Father.  He has given us instructions to return to Him after this life.  We each have infinite potential.  As we live with charity and follow the example of Jesus Christ, we will be blessed by the Lord. 
Totoo ang Aklat ni Mormon.  Buhay ang Diyos at si Jesucristo.  Sentro sa plano ng Diyos ay ang mahal. 
Mahal at mahal ko kayo sa lahat ng mga tao na magbasa nito,
Sister Copeland
P.S.  I love the notes and support I recieve from all of you but please do not send any more mail or packages to the MTC.  I will send my Philippines address shortly.  Also, I have some pictures this week of my district and teachers.  The picture of the window is just a little interior design project I did to bring a little Fung Shuay (sorry about that spelling) into our classroom.