Our New Year was a memorable one, though boring at the surface. We had a curfew at six, so I put on my jeans, having not worn them in six weeks, and the other sisters followed suit, so we spent the evening sweating in our jeans and dancing around. Three other sisters spent the night at our house, so we talked and had some spaghetti and our "lechon" (pig). In the Phillies, a roasted pig is tradition for holidays, but not having money for a real pig, we bought a loaf of bread shaped like one! We went to bed around eleven, only to be woken up by what sounded like bombs outside our apartment. We woke up and watched the fireworks that were being shot off from what seemed like everywhere, lights showering the sky and horns and noise makers filling the night with sound. It felt like the world had suddenly gone into World War 3, the sounds were so intense and booms from the fireworks were so close. After a while, we went back to bed, lulled to a restless sleep by screams ringing in the new year.
Prescilla and Imelda, our new converts, had a funeral on the third, since their mother died. We went, and I expected to be offering comfort and broken Tagalog words of consolation and assurance of God's plan, but it wasn't needed. As we walked into the courtyard, we were greeted by a group of men drinking to Valeriana Llorendo's name, who pointed to the back. Imelda met us happily there, hugged us, and ushered us all in to see her mother. The casket was open, though a glass pane had been fitted over the body. The funeral was in a small house, with a lace curtain pinned to cover the television where children were sitting. Imelda and Prescilla gave us seats right outside, so we could still see into the room where their mother was, and then they fed us pancit, a noddle dish similar to lo mein, and chocolate snack cakes. They wouldn't stop feeding us - I was so full by the time we left. It was the oddest funeral I've ever been to - and it's still going on. Here, funerals can last weeks. But Prescilla and Imelda didn't need consolation, they were so bubbly and happy and as we reminded them of God's plan and hope for eternal families, they agreed with smiles and hugs.
I'm getting better at cooking. I have a new system too. It's called throw-everything-we-have-in-a-pot-and-serve-it-over-rice. It's a hit with the sisters, especially when I found cream of chicken soup in the "shop around the world" section at LCC.
There was a "brown-out" on Thursday. No power, and no water from 5am to 7pm. What do you get when that happens? A very sweaty and very exhausted Sister Green. Ugh. Thanks to my mom's package with the hand-fan, I didn't die, but boy I was having a hard time!
I got serenaded with "Call Me Maybe" again.
I've started reading the Bible, as part of my new year's resolutions. It's really intimidating, and I practically live by my footnotes since I don't know what's going on half the time. But I'm really enjoying it. One of the biggest blessings of my mission is really building a love for reading the scriptures. I don't see it as a chore anymore, I see it as a blessing! The best part of my day!
This week we saw the Lord's hand by really working hard on listening to the Spirit - Sister Jaya and I visited a less active named Katelyn. She has such incredible faith and understanding, she understands the doctrine so well - we just didn't understand why she wasn't coming to church. In companionship study, I had decided how we needed to be firmer in our commitments. So after that, I was just prompted to be blunt. I just asked her what was stopping her from church. Katelyn looked hesitant, but she admitted to us in a whisper that her father got angry whenever we visited her, and that he was keeping her from returning to church. We could see in her eyes that she wasn't lying, and that made it all the more painful as we realized that this beautiful daughter was being kept from keeping her covenants. We assured Katelyn that we loved her, and that'd we'd pray for her to make sure she would be able to return to church. It was a humbling and teaching experience for Sister Jaya and I, to really realize that in this situation, we had to just leave it up to God. We'll see how her situation progresses, but I just really hope that Katelyn will find a way to come to church. I shared 1 Ne 1:20 with her, which promises God's deliverance to those who he has chosen.
Speaking of being firmer with commitments, I hammered on the less active that I mentioned last week, Brother Mirabona, until he promised to come to church. Did he come? No. Frustration! So he'll have an upset ginger busting down his door this week.
We had a lesson with a man named Jon Maldo this week. It was his first lesson and it was incredible to see how the spirit worked on him. At the beginning, although he was super open and friendly, he was really just preaching to us, quoting scriptures every five seconds with a smile on his face. I don't think he understood our purpose. But as we talked more and more, he started to really listen. He asked clarifying questions. We committed him to read the Book of Mormon. I really really liked him. He was old and laid back and super easy to talk to. I felt more confident in my Tagalog with him, and I have high hopes for him.
This year has been a whirlwind of activity and change. Just a recap of my last year: I officially transferred to ASU and although the plan had been to stay home and do online classes, at the last moment, I got the empty room next to my best friend, Tiffany Maksimuk. We spent the semester together, and this year, I really came to realize just how much I rely on her and how much she has always supported me. Throughout the semester, we had so many incredible, hilarious, and crazy adventures. In February, the day after Valentines day, I met two wonderful young women, Jasmine and Natalie. Although our meeting was complete chance, I now call them two of my closest and best friends, and I am so blessed to know them. In March, I met my Microsoft family: Randy, Vi, Jordyn, and Hannah. Through another complete chance, I somehow got involved in a project that would lead me to make incredible connections and make some wonderful new friends that I had many amazing opportunities to work with, and hopefully have many more in the future. My semester at ASU was the best consecutive five months of my life, in so many ways as I felt like I really fell into myself and began to realize my potential as I met so many new amazing people that continually believed in me. In January was the first time I wondered if I should serve a mission. It wasn't until February that I decided that it was something that I wanted to do. I submitted my papers in May, and received my mission call in June. A week after, I went through the Snowflake temple. That summer, I held two jobs as a hostess and a gardener while being a temple worker, and wrote up a storm, finishing the year with two major series of seventeen and twenty chapters long. In July, I traveled to Colorado for a crazy fun trip. By the end of that month, I knew that my dad had gotten a new job in Japan, and in August, my dad and brother left to live there. In September, I was a stress-case as I prepared for my mission, and as I said goodbye to so many people that I miss so much. In October, I entered the Missionary Training Center. In November, I flew to the Philippines. And I celebrated the new year here. And now, here I am, and here I'll stay for the next year and four months.
This past year has been the most insane year of my life. Ch-ch-ch-changes! Everything is different now - I'm different. I have a new sense of my purpose, not just as a missionary, but as a human being. Even after my mission, I know that the lessons I've learning now will affect the rest of my life. I'm excited for the future. Like my best girl Tiffany says, "When we're 87 and living together because our husbands have kicked it, we'll say, 'Bro. Remember 2014? That was a dang awesome year."
Yeah it will! I just feel like I started the most incredible year of my life. The most difficult and trying one for sure, but this is the year that I'll forever look back on. Time to make it awesome. My biggest resolution is to really get closer to my Savior and learn to see myself as He does. In the past, I haven't always done as I should have, and I haven't forgiven myself as much as I should. I want to make up for that this year. No looking back on mistakes anymore! Wouldn't want to turn into a pillar of salt, now would I? (budum-cheesh) Lot jokes? Anyone?
Everything is going to be better this year. And I'm going to work even harder to be the missionary I know I can be!
-"When you Believe" - Prince of Egypt song
-"Space Oddity" - David-always-stuck-in-my-head-Bowie
- "Everybody" - Backstreet Boys
- "There are Worse Things I Could Do" - Grease