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 Ilocano...so 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 here...so 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!

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