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,
-"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