So I am basically serving in Jurassic Park. I have not seen any dinosaurs yet, but any minute I am sure one will show up. I am officially serving in Sanchez Mira and it is crazy! My new companion is Sister Incognito and we are on fire. Sister Incognito is Filipina but her family moved to Virginia Beach about a year before she came to serve her mission. She is super talented and I am glad that I get a chance to serve with her before she ends her mission in January. It was hard to transfer for the second time in two weeks, but I know that I am supposed to be here now. Sister Incognito told me when I first arrived that I was an answer to her prayers. She has had a strong desire to have her final companion be an American, especially so that she can refine her English. I know the Lord always has a plan, no matter how crazy or ridiculous it may seem at first.
We will now discuss the things I had since forgotten about having a Filipina companion:
1. Filipinas hold hands. When I first arrived to the mission they informed us that holding hands was against the mission rules. I asked myself why they would even need to make that a rule. It is super weird but super funny; Filipinas hold your hand when you cross the street and walk down the street and walk through the street and everywhere else in between.
2. Filipinas cook good food.
3. Filipinas believe that you will get an appendicitis if you exercise after you eat.
I want to express my gratitude to all those that have prayed fervently for my fellow Elders and Sisters serving in the Tacloban mission. I have a few good friends serving there from BYU and it is comforting to know that they are accounted for and safe. Missionaries are subject to all things of the world, but I believe that the Lord has a special way to protect his servants so that they may continue to preach His word.
I am thankful to be serving in the jungle now! Sanchez Mira is full of fabulous people who love the Lord and desire to follow His way. We were able to be part of a baptism for two of His children on Saturday and we have future baptisms every week in our area. The people here are poor and have little. The streets are dirt and the roofs are made out of straw, yet the Spirit these people carry provides the strength they need in their lives. There are no real stores here, just a palengke (market). There is not even an ATM for hours. But I know that the Lord loves His children everywhere. The branch here has over 100 members attending every week, and I pray that the local district will soon become a stake so that Sanchez Mira can enjoy the benefits of being a ward.
It is also exciting to be one of the first two Americana missionaries to be serving here in about 10 years. White people do not really exist here and the attention we receive is a little extreme. I know though that Sister Storey and I have important work to do here. I am thankful that we have each other, too. People here first think we are rich and have nothing in common with them, but the moment we begin to speak their language, they understand our love for them and the connection we share as children of God.
Merry Christmas! I have been meaning to tell you all for a while (they start celebrating in September here). I hope to receive some of your cards in the mail soon. Have a good week and go give some referrals to your local missionaries.