Monday, December 30, 2013

More Photos!

"The Christmas Eve spread."

"White Christmas!"

"The last district photo before transfers...we're losing two."

"Merry Christmas from Sister Jaya! (Yes, I put the hat on her.)" 


"I live here... no big deal."

"The view in my backyard."

"The creepy Santa in LCC that I'm scared to walk by."

"When I get frustrated with Tagalog, my hair does crazy things."

"Me and Jane."

"Me and Sister Donato."

Week Labing-Dalawa: A White Christmas After All...‏

Hey everyone! Kumusta po kayo? Mabuti naman! I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas. My Christmas was rather odd - it definitely didn't feel like Christmas at all! No tree, no family, no snow, but it was unique and excellent all the same! On Christmas Eve, Sisters Donato and Pace cooked chicken, mashed potatoes, beans, and made a non-bake cake for us out of graham crackers, cream, and peaches. For Christmas dinner, we did pasta carbonara and veggies. We had a curfew at 6pm both of those days because in the Phillies, they love partying on Christmas, apparently enough to put us missionaries at a safety risk. So while we were invited to a few parties, we had to duck out before any real festivities began. But I skipped around the apartment on Christmas eve singing Christmas carols at the top of my lungs, I'm sure much to the annoyance of the neighbors, so it was okay. 

On Christmas day, I got to skype three sixths of my family, since the time differences would have made it to hard for us all to get together. It was so much fun. We talked about adapters and whale sharks a lot of the time, but it was insanely beautiful. Everyone was telling me that skyping would just make me homesick, and it did, but not as much as I expected. If anything, it made me happy to quote movies and talk about old jokes with my family. Getting caught up was so much fun, and seeing their super blurry faces and hearing their cracked staticy voices was still such a filling experience. Best Christmas present ever. I can't wait for Mother's Day now!

We had a White Christmas - a baptismal service on Christmas Day! Five people were baptized. None of them were Sister Jaya and my investigators, but it was totally fine. It was a beautiful experience to watch these people take upon themselves the name of Christ on the day we celebrate His birth! A few days later, we got to see another baptism, a mother and daughter. There baptism was so special to me, though I didn't know them personally. They looked beyond happy to be there - Sister Jeanky looked so peaceful and little Mira had a huge smile on her face when she exited the font. At the baptism, I met a little ten year old named Jane, a member from the other ward. She immediately latched herself onto me, and said I looked like Barbie. Then she hung on and hugged me for twenty minutes after, complimenting me and calling me Barbie and Snow White (harhar). She was the sweetest, and she announced that she had adopted me. Haha.

We had a really good lesson with a less active named Brother Mirabona. We were teaching about Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, and he was telling us that he couldn't come to church because he didn't have good clothes, his wife didn't like the church, and because he has money problems. I felt like I should share 3 Nephi 13: 31-33, which is: 

 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

 32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

I then explained in broken Tagalog that the Lord knows our problems, and if we put him first, we'll be blessed more than we can imagine. The spirit was so strong in the lesson, and Sister Jaya came in a a tearful testimony about no matter who we are or how much money we have, we are all children of God. It was a great lesson. Brother Mirabona felt the spirit and said he'd try to come to church. He didn't come yesterday, which was a let down, but I know that the spirit stirred in him. 

Saturday was the day that they announce transfers. Walang transfers sa amin! We were so scared that Sister Donato, who has been here for four months now, would have to leave, but nope! We get her for one more transfer, hoorayyyyy!!! Saturday was also exchange day, so I got to hang out with Sister Donato. We finally got to contact the HUGE yellow house (the biggest one here), and even though the Matameronsa family was currently planning a wedding, they said they were available next week. FOR THE WIN. Hanging out with Sister Donato was so much fun. She's so loud and crazy and personable, and she says hi to EVERYONE. Such an example of the missionary charisma I want to achieve!

Funny moment; Sister Jaya and I were rushing out of LCC (the grocery store) on our way to the laundry shop before it closed, and while we were rushing down the ramp, a filipino teenager asked me in englsih, "Hey, what's up?" and in my hurry, I breezed past him and my mouth immediately said the programmed-American-response of "NOTHIN MUCH!" and then we just kept running. I went twenty more feet before I realized what I had done, and I laughed for the rest of the night. Yeah. Yelling "Nothin' much!" at a kid probably wasn't very missionary-like. Whoopsie.

I finished the Book of Mormon. I have been so blessed to have the opportunity to reread this book. I finished it in eleven weeks - time to start again and REALLY study. Write things down and journal and really just work to understand. Not to say that I didn't this time through. I feel like I understand the timeline so much more, having really worked to keep track of the constantly changing points of view and switching of stories. After really paying attention to what was happening, I can tell you that I have such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. It's one of the few things that can make me feel better when I'm not doing so well, when I'm feeling down. I find so much comfort in it, and I know for a face that no matter the person, the Book of Mormon can and will change your life. The Book of Mormon literally holds all the answers. Not opinion, but fact. I know it.

I hope you're all doing well! I'm good - a little sticky, a little itchy, but so happy to be here. I finally feel like I'm settling in. Happy New Year! Let's make 2014 epic! 

Love,
Sister Green


Earworms:
"Heaven's Light" - Hunchback of Notre Dame
"Chickitita" - ABBA (someone was blasting it outside my house. It sent me into a singing-ABBA-marathon while I cooked lunch)


Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Time Photos

"Merry Christmas from the Legaspi Mission!"

"Got to see these wonderful missionaries from my batch at the party!"

"My darling roommates."

"The American Meal."

"Merry Christmas from me and Sister Jaya!"

"Prepare for trouble and make it double."

"This baby who caught me taking pictures of him. D'aww."

"Me in the Phillies."

"Cena Una dessert!"

"The note on the door."

Week Labing-Isa: And Walang Internet Sa Amin!‏

Magandang hapon everyone! How's it going? So, my title means "No internet for us", which is the reason why my email is a few hours late, in case any one close to my time zone noticed. Sooo probably not. Anyway, there was NO internet in a large chunk of Albay. We went to three internet shops and then traveled twenty minutes to Legaspi to check there, but wala. All the other missionaries were texting us freaking out, and we were just in a state of devastation. So I'm very happy to be able to email tonight at all!

I got some dear elders this week! This delayed system is so whack, since the ones I received were all mentioning Thanksgiving and it's almost Christmas. Heh. I got two from Tiffany, one from Kelsey, and one from Michelle - thank you! Sorry that I hadn't been answering, but know that any mail - deal elders, snail, or email, makes my week and I reread them on bad days to make me feel better. So thanks.

This week was insane. Because of the Christmas holiday, our week has been jam packed, though at the same time, it managed to be super boring. Because of our cramped schedule and additional meetings, we taught a shockingly and saddening low amount this week. Four days out of seven, we taught zero lessons. We are simply ashamed of our numbers this week. The handbook tells us that the holidays are perfect for finding people, but in the city, people are only here for business and school it seems, so everyone is out of town! Or if they are here, they're so busy with their own Christmas festivities that they haven't any time for us. 

And we've been stressed for time too. Tuesday was the Trainee-trainer conference workshop, which took up most of the day. It was cool though, I got to see some of my friends from the MTC and talk to them about their experiences. The day was crazy though - we had four extra girls in our apartment the night before for the conference, and with one bathroom, eight girls doesn't work out. The next night was even better. EIGHT girls came from Masbate to our apartment for the mission Christmas Conference on Wednesday, so we had twelve girls, no food, and one bathroom. Ahahah, it was insane. So loud and so hot, since we had to divide our fans up, and we only have four. None of us slept because it was so hot. 

The Christmas conference was fun. Got to meet a ton of fun missionaries. We exchanged gifts - I contributed a rubix cube and in return my number got me a paper bag full of Tang drink mix. You know how we all drank Tang when we were little and then it seemed to disappear off the face of the earth? Yeah, Tang came here to the Phillies. They love it here. At the Christmas conference, each zone got to perform. My zone did a legit performance of "O Holy Night" with scripture references intermingled. I got to be a narrator. It was so much fun, and we by far were the most spiritual performance. It was good that the others were funny though. It brought so much variety to the performance. We got tshirts as a present from the President, and I love it.

The next day we were off to Legaspi AGAIN, because guess who has a nasty bad case of heat rash all over her body and makes her eyes swell shut sometimes? You guessed it - me. So off to the dermatologist for oatmeal soaps and lotions for me! Yayyyyy. 

No notable lessons this week, I don't think. Oh yeah! Ugh. So we went to one woman's home and had an AMAZING lesson. Sister Jaya was prompted to extend the baptismal invitation, so she did the background and we read 2 Nephi 31: 5, 7, and 10 and then nodded to me. I asked Rowena if she would be baptized and she accepted, after only two lessons! It's such a great feeling for an investigator to say yes to baptism. It seemed to fill my heart with light. She was so happy to commit though, with a big smile on her face. She understood the commitment. We had covered it thoroughly before, and man, we felt so good.Obviously!

Then, the next day, we went back to the house to pick Rowena up for church. There was a note on the door, written by Rowena's daughter on apparent behalf of her parents, one of which I'll include a picture before. The translation is essentionally: "Don't come back here. We don't want to hear from you again. We are Roman Catholic, we are not mormons. Take your bible (the Book of Mormon) with you, thanks. This makes mom and dad fight all the time." 

I stood, stunned, staring at the door, not knowing whether or not to chuckle or cry. We had seen this woman YESTERDAY and she had committed with her whole heart. What we think happened is that Rowena told her husband and he wasn't happy in the slightest. Sayang. Sister Jaya and I trudged away, knowing that it was out of our hands at that point. Hopefully, some day Rowena will have the chance to be baptized, but for right now, we can't teach her anymore. 

Other than that, my week has been rather slow. The Doermann family, the only white family in our ward, took us out with their three little girls to Cena Una, the fanciest restaurant in Daraga. Pictures below! That was super fun. I had the first salad I have had in five weeks, pasta carbonara, and cheesecake. We also met the manager outside and we're totally going to teach him, since we've tried tracting his house before. So that's cool. He paid for our desserts. 

My routine has solidified mostly, despite the craziness of this week. Every morning, we stick to our shower schedule (which I created) and I eat my oatmeal in my cat mug every morning without fail. Then it's study time. Time is flying by. Sister Jaya goes home in a month. It's insane for me thinking about being here without her. But she was telling me about her country, Sri-Lanka, and particularly about the ELEPHANTS that come in abundance there. Apparently there is an elephant orphanage where I can just hang with baby elephants, and then there is an elephant festival there too, every year. Mom, can I go??? Wanna come with and see me collapse from elephant-cuteness-overload? Please? Basically, Sister Jaya and I aren't really saying goodbye, because obviously I'm going to the Elephant Festival.

I finished with the book of Ether last night in the Book of Mormon. Only ten more chapters to go! I started on October 11th, and I plan to finish on Christmas Eve. Talk about awesome. Goal almost met. I have such a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon now. This time reading, I really paid attention and studied the time line, so now I know when things happened and what order everything comes. Because of this new understanding, I have such a deeper love for this book. I know it's the word of God and the fullness of the true gospel. I feel so much stronger and closer to my Savior now that I have a firmer understanding of the keystone of His gospel. What an amazing Christmas gift!

My language skills have yet to improve. I feel like I can speak in my head, but then when I open my mouth, no discernible Tagalog comes out. I feel like I'm lost my voice. And then I likened this feeling the The Little Mermaid during the song "Poor Unfortunate Soul", which is exactly what I feel like when I fail at speaking, which is often. So I rewrote some of the lines from the song for you. (note: this of course didn't actually take place in any fashion, I just wanted to illustrate my feelings.)

The Poor, Unfortunate Sister Missionary 
(written by Sister Green)

Mission President: "Okay Sister Green. I've got the authority to turn you inot a trainee for twelve weeks. Got that? Twelve weeks. During which, you have to prove that you're a missionary. But not just any missionary! A successful, dedicated missionary! If you accomplish this, you'll become a trusted missionary in the Philippines permanently! And if not, you turn back into a greenie. And belong to the lame english speakers!"

Me: "If I become a real missionary...I'll never see my trainer or be helped by her again..."

Mission President: "That's right!...But...you'll have your new sense of purpose...Life's full of tough choices, ain't it? Oh! And we haven't discussed the subject of payment!"

Me: "But I'm a missionary! I don't have any--"
Mission President: "Oh it's nothing! What I'm asking for, a trifle really, you won't even know it's gone! What I need from you is...your voice."

Me: "My voice?"

Mission President: "You've got it, sister. No teaching. No testifying. Zip."

Me: "But without my voice, how can I prove to investigators that I'm here to help them?"

Mission President: "Psh! You'll have your looks! Your pretty hair! And don't underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE, HA! *busts into song and extreme hip movement*"


Yeahhhhh. Anyway. That's how I feel sometimes, like my voice is gone and I still have to prove myself without having it. But Rowena's lesson, I actually talked a lot and felt more confident, but alas, that note through a wrench in things. 

I cooked a big meal this week, be proud. I brought a piece of America with homemade chicken strips (fried with cornflakes) and homemade french fries. I even tracked down some Heinz ketchup! WIN.

Speaking of food, I tried a squid ball today. After a bite and not vomiting, I popped the whole thing in my mouth. Then Sister Donato said "squid ball" and I gagged and had to fight for a minute to chew and swallow successfully. That's enough experimenting for one day!

Funny thing! A woman in my ward came up to me the other day and said seriously, "Sister Green...you look like Mandy Moore." I absolutely cracked up, and I told her no one has ever told me that. But she's convinced, and she comes up to me every Sunday, grabs my arm, squeals, "Mandy Moore!" and then asked for my autograph. Always a party in the Phillies!

The little kids have started asking for my name. So they shout at me "HEY! WHAT'S YO NAME?" And I tell them, but then five feet later, they'll ask again. Somewhat confused at this, I asked Sister Pace. She said to make them stop asking over and over, answer fully in Tagalog, because they don't think I know it. So I tried the next time a little boy asked me in english what my name was. I turned and said, "Ako po si Sister Green!" and his smile wiped off his face. Smirking, I kept walking with Sister Jaya, but I heard him exclaim to his friends in Tagalog, "That Americana speaks Tagalog!" Oh, yes. I have found the right way to do things.

Mmm. Well, one of my earworms this week was comically enough the Heat Meizer's song from The Year Without A Santa Claus, and I was singing it to myself all week: "I'm Mister Green Christmas! I'm Mister Sun! I'm Mister Heat Blister, I'm Mister 101!" Yep. That's what it is here. No white Christmas for me (unless you count my skin). How's the snow for those of you who have it? ENJOY IT. Christmas here is definitely a party though! We have curfews on the 24th and 25th because apparently, the partying usually takes a turn for the insane. Ahahhaha, I love it.

I hope you're all doing wonderfully. Merry Christmas to you all. I love you all so much, and I hope that you all celebrate the holidays in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. This holiday away from home, although sometimes tough, teaches me constantly that Christmas isn't about the material things, it's about the birth of Chirst and the love He gave the world. Christmas is about the love we give to others and the service we can offer. I'm so thankful for this opportunity to serve, to live this portion of my life fully for others. Hard as it may be, it's going to stay with me for the rest of my life. What a blessing to be here in this beautiful country, especially during the holidays!

"When a man receives knowledge, he is prompted to impart it to others; when a man becomes happy, the spirit that surrounds him teaches him to strive to make others happy."

"Every man and woman who serves the Lord, no matter how faithful they may be, have their dark hours; but if they have lived faithfully, light will burst upon them and relief will be furnished."
-Lorenzo Snow

"Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever! His power and glory ever more proclaim!" - O Holy Night

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!
Love, 
Sister Green


Earworms:
1) Heat Meizer's song
2) I'll Be Home for Christmas
3) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
4) Feliz Navidad
5) All You Need is Love - The Beatles
6) Within You - David Bowie

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week Sampu's Photos

"Me with Prescilla and Imelda."

"My Wall of Home."

Week Sampu: I've Got a Beautiful Feeling...‏

IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY. THE SUN IS SHINING, THE BIRDS ARE SINGING, THE LAUNDRY IS DONE, AND THE BAPTISMS WENT THROUGH.

Hey everyone. How's your lives? Cultural note: They don't use forks and knives here. Spoons and forks are what happens. Spoons. Every meal. Doesn't matter what you're eating, you use a spoon instead of a knife. Need to cut something? Use a spoon. Eating fried chicken? Spoon. Need a knife? Too bad, here's a spoon.

OH. I forgot to tell you, but last week, as I was walking with Sister Jaya in the dark, a group of boys were sitting talking on the side of the road. At the sight of me, one of them immediately got on one knee and started to seranade me with Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me Maybe". Yep. That happened. 

We didn't have power or water on Tuesday. That was mostly horrific for me, since there was no electric fan, and it was a particularly warm day, and I had a little bit of a freak out until 6pm when it turned on again. Power outages, or "Brown-outs" are quite frequent here.

This week was good for a lot of reasons. Sister Jaya, Pace, and Donato and I had a crazy fun time explaining our cultural differences to each other. Sister Jaya and Donato were quite horrified about a lot of the things that Sister Pace and I told them about America, which was beyond humorous. There was a rat in our trash - I didn't see it, thank goodness. It ran out a whole in our wall. So that's fun. Uh...I'm rocking my Book of Mormon reading, already in 3rd Nephi, so hopefully I can finish before January! I got some mail this week from Janelle, Lindsey, and a Dear Elder from Lidia and Tiffany. I know there are more Dear Elders coming, but I swear, Dobby is stealing them, because wala.

Thursday was my bad day this week. I basically wanted to cry my eyes out because I HATE not being able to speak Tagalog. For someone as talkative as me, it is extremely horrible to be forced into shyness because I don't know how to speak. And using english always seems like a cop-out to me, so that frustrated me even more. But it's okay. I was frustrated and seemingly inadequate, but Nephi had given up after the first few times trying to get the plates from Laban, we wouldn't have that history. If Captain Moroni had given up, the entirety of the Nephites would have been eliminated before their time. And in a more modern perspective (or at least a geekier one) if Bilbo hadn't stepped a foot outside his hobbit-hole, he wouldn't have had such an amazing adventure that even though was hard, changed his life. (side note: How was the Hobbit? I can't believe it's been a year already!)

Thursday night, while I was still trying to deal with my frustration and somewhat crushing sadness and discouragement, we met up at a member's house to pick her up as she was to be our ward missionary that evening. It was a spur of the moment thing, and I was a little hesitant since I was so upset that night. But I took one step into this lady's house and my eyes flew open. BOOKS. Books lined a full wall on a giant shelf. In that moment, I realized that I hadn't seen ANY books while teaching here. No bookshelves, no collections. When I saw these books, I flew forward and crouched next to them, touching every single one and relishing the familiar titles. I held an old boxed set of Lord of the Rings in my hands and looked in awe at their impression mystery and classics collection. I saw titles that I'd seen my mom read before, and I was just absolutely gleeful. Then I stood up, feeling refreshed and infinitely better when I saw this woman's 14yr old daughter, Keisha (like the Bill Crosby show), on the computer. I asked her (in english) what she was doing. She was writing a feature article for her english class on Nelson Mandela, who I promptly gaggled on about how I had a best friend who LOVES him. We went on to talk about our mutual love for writing and reading, and guess what her favorite is? That's right, Harry Potter! We flipped out and fan-girled together for 30 minutes while Sister Bigtas and Sister Jaya giggled at our apparent joy as we talked and squealed about the series that meant so much to the both of us. I recommended John Green's The Fault in Our Stars to her, and she promised to read it right away. She told me how kids her age don't really read a lot here, and I just wanted to hug here and tell her how much she already meant to me and how much she brightened my day. After a few more minutes of happy discussions about writing and books, we left. But my eyes were open, I felt alert, happy, and ready to teach. Yesterday I saw Keisha again, and she immediately told me that she read TFIOS, and that she absolutely loved it, and that she was already almost done with Paper Towns. I squealed and hugged her so hard. In this tiny, round-a-bout way, I know God helped me be happy again. I met Keisha by chance, and because of that, my day was brightened. 

The beginning of this week was phenomenal. Before my main story, I want to give some background. We're asked to try and tract among the middle class in order to find more educated people and leaders. Sister Donato always makes fun of me because, as she puts it, "Sister Green doesn't tract middle class. Sister Green tracts HIGH class". Which is, in fact true. I always go for the biggest houses, I always want to knock on their doors. And the biggest and richest houses a lot of the time happen to be yellow, which is always fun since the sisters poke me when we pass one and say, "Go for it!" They say it's inspiring, so I still do it. Yellow houses are my favorite. 

But anyway. We taught Shampoo Lady (Mariline) again finally, and WOW it was good. We taught about the Book of Mormon (me in english), and again, we ended up talking for two hours. Mariline asked so many good questions. In a moment of courage, I invited her to be baptized, and after we explained why baptism by the proper authority was so important, she told us that she would be baptized if she read the Book of Mormon and believed it was true. I explained how the Holy Ghost will witness the truth to her, and I explained what the spirit feels like. When she said the closing prayer, the spirit was so strong and when she finished, she was crying. She quickly wiped the tears away with an apology, but I knew that she had felt the Holy Ghost. She went to get us free soda and cupcakes and I just hugged myself knowing how much God has prepared Mariline. But, oh then. Sister Jaya needed to use the restroom, so Mariline said, "Oh, in my house." She led us out the back door, and we walked across a courtyard. I saw where we were walking, but I told myself that we must have been heading to the small brown house in the corner of the courtyard. But oh no, we walked through a gate and arrived at Mariline's house - a whopping three-story, huge, wealthy, and clearly YELLOW house, with two shiny cars parked out front. As Mariline was walking in front of us up to the door, I was punching Sister Jaya's arm with my mouth wide open. And the inside was even nicer - by far the nicest and biggest house we'd been in. There were even polished hard-wood floors, and a granite countertop! AH. I was wigging out the rest of the day. My favorite progressing investigator happened to live in my favorite house. It was a sign for sure. And we were so shocked - we had NO idea Mariline was that wealthy. Turned out she owned the store, the courtyard, the little house, and the yellow big one. Wealthy people in the Philippines are hard, if not impossible to get them to listen, and we'd been teaching one the whole time. CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH?. 

We had two baptisms yesterday! Prescilla and Imelda, sisters both in their fifties, took upon them the name of Christ and were baptized. Before the baptism, I was feeling normal, but it wasn't until they entered the font that I felt such incredible peace come over me. I was so thankful for the opportunity to know these wonderful and hilarious and loving women. The baptism went well, except poor Imelda had to be baptized FIVE times because her arm or leg kept popping out of the water. In the end, the baptizer looked like he was drowning her to get her all the way under. By the end, we were all dying of muffled, good-natured laughter as Imelda stomped her foot and finally knelt in the water and said, "Down here, then!" I was worried that it was ruining her experience, but then she and Sister Prescilla bore such wonderful and touching testimonies about how thankful they were for us as their missionaries and how they knew the church was true. I was sitting there teary-eyed as they wonderful new members cried on the pulpit in gratitude. It was an amazing experience that made me remember why I'm here. My purpose is to bring a message to everyone. My message is simple, but it's huge. It'll change lives. And through it, I can bring people closer to their Savior, Jesus Christ. I can help them get on the road to eternal life. What an AMAZING opportunity. I thank Heavenly Father daily for my opportunity to serve, even on the days I don't feel so good. 

Merry Christmas, everyone. I'll email you on the 24th, of course, but just an early reminder of how beautiful the Christmas season is and how lucky we are to have a Savior as merciful and as perfect as Jesus Christ. We are loved so much. 

"We have got to reach...a higher plane. We have got to love God more than we love the world." - Lorenzo Snow

This Christmas season, let's try to love our Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ, and our fellow men more than we love the things of this world. I know that personally, it's something I need to work on. But I know I can do it. I can change. I know that my Redeemer lives. I know that He was born to be our Savior. And I know that He has provided a way for us to return to Him. 

Glory to God in the Highest! 

Love you all so very much,
Sister Green



Earworms:
-"On Top of the World" - Imagine Dragons
-"Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" - Oklahoma
-"Far Far Away on Judea's Plain"
-"Some Nights" -F.U.N
-"As the World Falls Down" - David Bowie

PHOTOS!

"A rainbow for Margaret."
"Our district, including the AP's."

"Thanksgiving dinner."

"Excited to eat!"

"The spread."

"We are a rainbow, all on our own."

"The first hand turkies!"

"The finished products!"

"Sister Jaya and me."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week Siyam: The Photographs


"The market."

"Ummm, what?"

"Mount Mayon."

"Normal, if not nice, houses."

"Lovely sunset."

Week Siyam: Working Hard or Hardly Working?‏

So this week was whack. On Tuesday morning, I awoke horrifically ill. Very very VERY sick. My theory is food poisoning. Because of the fact that I couldn't move without my stomach feeling like it was going to turn inside out, I went back upstairs and slept for another hour, hoping to shrug it off. Alas, no deal. I came downstairs and slept on a mattress in the middle of our livingroom floor (which Sister Donato kindly documented for you in a picture, ugh). After another few hours, I tried to eat a little oatmeal, which made me so sick to the point of vomiting, so back to my mattress I went. I read the entirety of "Our Heritage" while laying there in discomfort and exhaustion, which is another wonderful book about the LDS church. I finally felt good enough to get up around 4pm. I ate the oatmeal, showered, dressed, and wallowed in misery knowing that I had derailed our entire day. The sisters, however, were so not having my misery. They scolded me and told me that my health was most important. I steeled myself and made us go out for one appointment to the Yellow House, which went okay. The mom and daughter enjoyed our lesson and listened carefully, but the mom told us straight up in the beginning that they were not interested in conversion. We told them that we weren't there to convert, we were there to share. The mom gave me many compliments on how well I speak (because they were educated so I spoke english) and she seemed impressed by my testimony, though at the time I was fighting to keep a smile.Tuesday was just a very sick day.

Wednesday started out much the same. Achy and stomach sick. I made myself move around about nine though because it was exchanges and since I live with the Sister Training Leaders, I didn't want to seem useless. Sister Pace and I are friends though, so she was understanding and even very concerned about how I was feeling throughout the day. We taught a full day, and while a couple of times I felt sick, I pushed through the day, ending with a mild case of sleep deprivation.

Yesterday, I was sick too. Migraine, stomach upset, dehydration because I ran out of water at church and had no time for a refill, and major frustration with the language that I don't seem to click with yet. I was so hot, so sticky, so tired, and the thought of food made me nauseous, so I went to bed without eating last night. My sleep last night was uncomfortable because of the heat that my electric fan didn't seem to battle, and my back hurt really bad too.

Oh crap, I just reread this. I sound like such a whiner. What I'm saying is, is that I was very sick this week, but I'm regaining my health and I'm very much still alive. No one worry about me. I'm doing better today. I ate food and everything.

Okay, onto the not death parts of my week. I have funky dreams now, so vivid and descriptive, and I have them every night. It's weird since I'm not really used to dreaming. But anyway. I had a dream that in order to serve a mission, I had to participate in a Hunger Games competition. And I just wanted to serve but there was this sister that was like "Well I'm going to kill you, so that isn't going to happen." I had to wake myself a few times and remind myself that I was already in the field, and that a HG competition made absolutely no sense for missionaries. What are we going to do - slowly kill each other by giving paper cuts with our pamphlets? 

I had my first experience this week with a breast-feeding investigator. Brother Kovach was right - they just don't care here. No privacy needed. The first experience quickly opened the floodgates to a second and third experience. It was super weird, being raised in such a different environment. Elder Wilcox in my district reacted to my observation with a serious nod and said, "Yeah, you think it's awkward for you? Try being an elder." I cackled for a minute straight, laughing harder when his eyes suddenly looked like he was thinking of horror stories. It's just so very different here. Things that would never happen in the states, happen here. Things that I have been taught my entire life not to do, they freely do here. Children run around without pants, men pull up their shirts and fondly rub and slap their bellies in the streets, stray cats and dogs with missing fur are nuzzled and chased. The other day, I saw a small group of teenage boys, their little brothers, and men gathered around watching a cock-fight in the middle of the street. I slowed, my jaw dropping, my mind immediately screaming about how illegal and messed up it was. But Sister Jaya didn't slow and the men didn't seem phased, and then I remembered I was in a third world country. It's a jungle out here, kids.

We had Zone Training this week. Sister Jaya, Sister Pace, and I sang "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul". Man, I love that song. Just the lyrics, "Savior, Redeemer of my soul, whose mighty hand hath made me whole. Whose wondrous power hath raised me up, and filled with sweet my bitter cup." UGH, those lyrics hit me straight in the heart every time. After training, a few of us went to Colonial Grill, which was beyond tasty, and the first nice restaurant I've been to here. It was fun. Sister Jaya and I went to the hospital then to get her a chest xray, which is apparently required for all departing missionaries. Another note - I am so so SO thankful for hospitals in America. Hospitals in third world countries aren't exactly nice. Or clean.

Briefly saw Shampoo lady two days ago. Haven't been able to teach her because she's busy. Dangit. We taught a family yesterday, named Lotivio, and convinced the mom and her two baby daughters to come to church after only two lessons. She stayed for two periods, which was so nice of her. She's lovely, though she doesn't speak any english, so my broken Tagalog isn't really helpful with her. It was the Primary program yesterday, and ugh, I was just sitting there missing my primary kiddos so much. I miss hanging out with the every week.

Not much happened this week, other than acute sickness. I'm doing better though, and despite frustration, I'm still so happy to be here. Working on some things, and although progression is slow, I pursue it all the same.

"We are the reason He created the universe!...This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf

All my love,
Sister Green


Earworms:
-"Fernando" - ABBA
-"The Cave" - Mumford&Sons
-"Witch's Rap" - Into the Woods
-"The Phantom of the Opera"

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week Walo: Two-faced Trouble‏

Fair warning. My shift key is sticky. So this might not be a perfectly edited letter. So sorry in advance. Okay. Second week sa Philippines, second week of adjustment. Just a note to everyone who sends me dearelders - they are printed in Manila and they aren't on a schedule. They aren't delivered daily or even weekly. I haven't gotten any yet. So if you've been communicating with me by dearelder, email is probably now the more reliable way of contacting me, especially if you've been telling me news and stuff. This majorly applies to Tiffany, Jasmine, Natalie, and mom. I'm sorry if you've been telling me stuff. I'm sure I'll get them soon, but as of today, a big zero was waiting for me.

This week was harder for me in so many ways. Sometimes it was so hard to keep a good attitude. I was homesick a lot this week - for the first time in my mission. Probably because of the lack of mail. I read a bunch of old dearelders (BIG mistake) and I sort of wallowed in annoying self pity. I always feel like I'm made of two people. One is sad and discouraged, and the other is screaming at it telling it that I knew this would be hard. I knew that there would be tough days. But I also know that this will all be worth it. I know that my mission is a fraction as hard as the Savior's was, and even a fraction as hard as the first missionaries' were, but the other part of me sometimes gets so down on herself that it's hard to stay focused. And it's hard to stay focused as it is - keeping my mind trained on the work is hard when a lot of the time I don't understand what's being said. It's easy for me to zone out, and then I get frustrated with myself for messing up and not keeping my mind single on the work. And on top of that, I missed my mom a lot this week and that just made everything harder.

The peak of this upsetting attitude was Thanksgiving morning. I knew I should be thankful for everything, and believe me, I was, but it was just so hard to stay positive and focused when I was so tired and discouraged. And the fact that I was frustrated was stressing me out more because it ws THANKSgiving. That morning, I didn't want to go out to teach. I was too down to be happy around others, even though I knew for a fact that that was the only thing that would make be feel better. The sisters sensed my ill-covered and distressed panic attack and talked me down. Sister Donato ran and came back with a little piece of paper that someone had given her. It says "Take one day at a time. Do not think too far in the future. Just do as the day requires." You could say that became my motto this week, during so many difficult days of no success and frustration. I'm working on doing just as the day requires, just the Tagalog I need for the day so I don't get too stressed, just not thinking about the future when that is so far away. I still struggle in some moments, but hopefully I get better at thinking positively. 

There are a lot of ants here. They anger me on multiple occasions. Pesticide is now my best friend here.

Wednesday was just a flop. Nothing was working - out of our six lessons planned, only one was available, and they were two rowdy children who were not very interested on focusing. We were able to talk to two other investigators for about five minutes, but the day was definitely a bust. But in the midst of failing tracting, we found a family of four in the street eating. We talked to them briefly and invited them to church, and then continued on our way. Four hours later, while we were despairing, we got a text from this young family telling us that they would come on Sunday. Ugh, it was the first good thing that had happened that day. On Sunday though, they didn't come, so that was sad. They apparently had to work. In fact, none of our investigators came to church, even though we were expecting at least four. 

Two of those investigators are Imelda and Precilla, who are supposed to be baptized on Dec14th. On Tuesday, when we arrived at their house, who should we find but Imelda, who quickly hid her hand behind her back and waved us to go in without her with a cough. We could see the cigarette smoke trailing out behind her back. So that was sayang (too bad). We are still hoping for the 14th, but we don't know anymore.

I got to ride a Jeepney for the first time this week. We usually walk, but it was dark and it was raining, so we rode. It was way fun. The driver was laughing at me because in the empty back benches, I was sliding all over the place with a gleeful grin plastered on me face. 

The rain was crazy this week. It didn't rain for the first half of the week, which was gross for me since the heat was nearly unbearable a lot of the time, but then when it finally did rain on Friday, it poured to the point of flooding. We waded through a lot of puddles this week. During the downpour on Saturday, I think it was, I heard the first thunder and saw the first lightning I had ever experienced here. Rain is usually quiet here - which was so odd to me the first time I really noticed it. Anyway, thunder and lightning. And my mind snapped to Sister Richmond, and I hoped she was okay. Are you okay, Sis Rich? 

This week has also been weird health wise. For the past few days I've woken up with stomach aches that stay until lunch time. I think it might be dehydration, but then again, I could have a parasite. In my tired state the other day, I started to brush my teeth with unfiltered water, only to wig out and rinse my mouth out. Everyone makes fun of me because of my obsession with my filtered water bottle. They say that I won't get sick if I just cut loose. I don't believe them though, because I know that I WOULD be the one to get a parasite. So hopefully my stomach just feels better. 

We taught a new investigator this week. Her name is Chelo, and her daughter is Elisa. Elisa is a sweetie who's twelve and she asked what she had to do to be a missionary like us. I love saying Chelo's name because I always say "Chelllooooooo, you gotta bass!"

Sister Jayasekara and I, after receiving our bimonthly support money, went to Bigg's Diner. I walked in and laughed. It was so Americanized! There was a singer, who actually had a decent belt, who sang Adele and other stuff, and there were pictures of Charlie Chaplin, Elvis, Audrey Hephburn, and about a BILLION pictures of Marilyn Monroe on every surface. Sister Jaya said that with my long curly hair (which I had shown her pictures of), I looked a lot like Marilyn Monroe. I laughed and told her thank you even though that is simply not true. Haha. I had a burger and fries at Bigg's - which was good if you remember that the burger is exactly a common thing here. It was as good at the Philippines would get a burgers anyway. Their carrot cake was actually rather tasty.

Hahah, sorry if my emails seem scattered. I never know what to include. I tried "coffee" this week at a member's house. Turns out it's just roasted rice with cream. It's delicious. I was so confused though, as you can imagine.

Thanksgiving! That's something. I had a good Thanksgiving, considering that they don't celebrate it here. Our apartment did celebrate though, since we have two American sisters. Sister Pace and Donato cooked us an amazing meal with chicken, beans, rice, little potatoes, and french toast for dessert. I told the story of Thanksgiving with Sister Pace, and then with the colored paper I had purchased, I taught Sister Donato and Jayasekara how to make their first hand-turkies. We colored them on a mattress in our living room and wrote our names on them in our left hands to look like kids writing to complete the image. Our turkies are hanging up on our wall. Sister Donato, who loves "The Star-Spangled Banner" way more than a lot of Americans I know, sang it with me. I am so blessed to have the girls in my apartment! I love them, and they are such comforts to me.

On that note, Sister Jaya is my hero. We were tromping along in the pouring rain when we heard a horrific sound, a piercing wail that hurt my ears. The funny thing was, I had heard that sound before, only deeper in pitch. My mind immediately raced back in time to when I was living in Springerville, and I was only about four or five years old. My sister and I were playing outside when that sound filled the air, one we mistook for a prehistoric creature. We found out later that it was a dog caught in barbed wire. I felt like Indigo Montoya from The Princess Bride (Is it Indigo? How do you spell his name?) and I was quoting him, "That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound...yadayada." Well Sister Jaya and I rounded the corner and lo and behold, it was the same sound I had heard when I was five because it was the same situation. A puppy not much bigger than both my hands was caught in barbed wire. I stopped, not knowing was to do, but I insisted that we halted to help it. Sister Jaya grabbed a stick and tried to help the puppy out, while I stood with my hands over my mouth, near sobbing and pacing around. Whenever the puppy screamed in pain, I wailed with it with a "Oh no, baby, oh no, puppy, I don't know how to help you, stop moving, baby puppy baby." I obviously wasn't much help. I attacked a passerby and frantically asked in english if they had a pocket knife, for the puppy's neck tie was caught, making it have to put its head and paws of the wire, but the person didn't understand me. I can imagine their confusion as a soaked, frantic American girl nearly screamed out a demand at them. Oh dear, I do make good impressions. But Sister Jaya finally freed the puppy, and I have since thanked her at least seven times. She was magnificent.

Onto the spiritual highs. I had some good ones this week, although some were a tad unexpected. One was with the lady we met in that store last week, who I affectionately call Shampoo Lady. Oh my goodness, I was not expecting what happened. We were welcomed to sit down, and we just started talking about the Restoration pamphlet. Although we talked in the shop, so she had to get up a lot, we had an amazing experience. About fifteen minutes in, this woman got up, got a notebook, and started taking NOTES on our lesson, writing down every scripture reference and every list of doctrine we mentioned. I got to speak a lot of English with her, and she listened patiently to everything we said. She asked a lot of questions too, including about the signs of Christ's coming with the typhoons and stuff, which I was able to answer for her. At one point she said, "So with Joseph Smith's time, there were many churches..." and then she grabbed a nearby mirror and held it up, "But I want the FULL church!" Ah, it was so incredible to see how much the Lord has prepared this woman. She was so anxious to learn, and after an hour and forty five minutes of discussion, going into doctrine that wasn't usually mentioned in the first lesson, like "So what happens to the people who didn't come unto Christ when he comes again?", I asked her to pray about it. She said she wouldn't until she read the newest pamphlet we gave her, but she said that something told her that all of what we were saying was true. WHHHAATTTTT. Ughh, it was so amazing. A miracle to me when we've had such a tough week. We have an appointment with her on Wednesday, but that's exchange day, so Sis Jaya will have to tell me how it went.

I hope everyone had a wonderful week. I miss all of you, and I hope that your lives are just going swimmingly.

Mahal kita!

Always,
Shannon


Earworms:
-"Kindle my Heart" that song from A Little Princess that always makes me bawl
-"Emma Smith - Never had an Ordinary Day" also makes me sob.
-"I'm Gonna Fly" - Kiki's Delivery Service
-"It's Time" - Imagine Dragons (or is it Fun? Can't 'member)
-"Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" (whose mighty hand hath made me whole <3)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WEEK SIX: THE PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE

"Us and Brother Diaz, a frequent helper in our class."

" Party Time for end of MTC (We got in trouble after. Whoops)."

"My favorite Sisters!"

"SNOWING."

"Sister Calder, me, and Sister Hopkins. They're part of our newest group. I love them so much!!!!"

"Chip party with the District."

"Adventures outside."

"Adventures outside."

Party, party, party.