Monday, November 18, 2013

Welcome to the Jungle



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. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Akoy Alive!

First, thank you for all the prayers.  The Laoag mission was NOT affected by the typhoon.  I am still praying for, and I hope that you are also praying, for the missionaries of the Tacloban mission who are unaccounted for.  They need our prayers.
Now, I do not really know where to start in explaining my week.  Sister Porter and I have done tons of work(note the picture where our table is covered in papers and forms).  Our area was given to Elders who have been assigned to our ward and we were given an old area of other sisters.  That meant basically starting from scratch, not knowing anyone, and getting lost a lot.  But we have tried our best to get it rolling here.  And just as things got rolling, President Barrientos called to meet with me.  And I am being transferred again, seguro sa mas malayo area in the North.  I am sad that I have to leave my area after only serving in Laoag for three weeks, but I know that President has my best interest in mind.  I am excited to explore another part of the mission and chances are my new area will be in the rice fields, serving some of the poorest people in the Philippines and world.  I will probably have to say goodbye to the comforts of Laoag City.
This is all okay.  I have had amazing experiences on my mission so far and although I will have been transferred unexpectedly two times, I have a strong testimony that I can be powerful and effective wherever the Lord sends me.  When President met with me to inform me of this transfer, he made sure to tell me that my talents and abilities will alway bless those that I serve.  He also told me that even though I have had to move around a lot so far, I have had great successes already and that I will be a leader in this mission.  Although I do not necessarily want to be a leader and although I know I am still an imperfect missionary, I am grateful for the opportunities I have to share my talents across the world in the Philippines.  If I can touch a few hearts in these 18 months, I will be grateful for the opportunity I have had to use the gifts I have been given. 
It only took me a few hours within entering the MTC that I realized that serving a mission was extremely difficult.  And I thought it would get easier.  But what I have learned recently is that it always gets harder and that the harder it gets, the faster you grow.  My mission is not a burden, though.  My mission is an opportunity.  My mission is an opportunity given to me by the Lord to make myself more like Him.  I looked at my scriptures yesterday and noticed that my name is really wearing off of the front cover.  It made me think and hope that I can become a little less like me on my mission and a little more like Thee. 
I love all of you!  Send me your Christmad cards!  Send me an email!  Stay strong and eat rice!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Plague Strikes.

So this week was good...for a while.  On Wednesday morning I detected a slight fever, but being the masipag missionary, I said, "What the heck, Satan?" and went out to work.....for a couple hours.  And then my head became hotter than the pavement here and I slept for three days straight.  I was so hot but I was violently shivering.  I had no strength;  I could not even unscrew the top of my water bottle.  So even though it was a typhoon, the Eddingtons took me to the hospital to get tested.  No Dengue even though we all thought that was what it was so I just went home and fell back into my coma.  The hospital here is like the scariest place on earth though; the nurse who took my blood said, "Wallang veins! (No veins) And I was like "talaga"and then I about blacked out. Not a positive experience.  

It was weird because I had the plague and it looked like the apocalypse outside.  And let me tell you, I had some crazy dreams.  And we have crazy pigs that live outside our window and they were so loud during the typhoon.  I wish I could have gone all farm animal whisperer on them, but I could not even stand.

I wish I could say that I was better, but I have like a new symptom everyday.  I have this rash right now all over my body and I look super sunburned. BUT IT IS A RASH BECAUSE I HAVE THE PLAGUE.  I wish I could go to the Vanderbilt Walk-in Clinic right now.  I called Sister Barrientos today to tell her that I am seriously sick and that my lymph nodes are huge and now I think she is starting to understand I have a really bad infection.  If I am dead next week,  I want you to all know that I love you.

For real, though, I am sad that I was unable to get any work done this week.  Sister Hansen is transferring tomorrow and we really only worked together for a week.  She taught me a lot in that short time and I am looking forward to working with Sister Porter this transfer.  A new bishop was called in our ward yesterday and a lot of positive changes are taking place.

I love you all, talaga! Also, the best email of the week award goes to Elder Ben johns.  This is what he sent me for all of my hispanohablantes out there in the cypersphere:

"Para que sepa, escuche "That Girl is on Fire" cuando yo estaba trabajando dos dias atras, y pense en ti. Para que sepa.


Elder Johns"

Besiiiiiiiiiitos to all of you too!  Have a good week and spread some of that good ol' gospel around where you are.