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