Monday, February 24, 2014

Week Dalawang-p​u Photo

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A frustrated Sister Green during language study

Week Dalawang-p​u: The Breeze Always Comes

Hello everyone! Kumusta ka? I hope you all had a good week. It's really weird for me to imagine you all running around living normal lives, going to school, watching television, driving in cars, etc. I was talking to Sister Lang this week and I told her, "It's going to be so weird when we don't live in the Philippines", and we just sort of sat and talked about how much our lives have changed. I can't really imagine, realistically anyway, sitting down reading Harry Potter or going out to see a movie anymore. Normal things that I used to do aren't so normal anymore. Normality is waking up at 6:30, washing my laundry by hand, walking five miles or more a day, and so forth. Missionary work is my life now. Thinking about doing anything out of the routine is really weird for me. And I've only been out 4.5 months. I can't imagine how weird it is for the "older" missionaries.
It was a roller-coaster of a week. So much success, but at the same time, so much failure. I'm really starting to realize how difficult missionary work is. I mean, I've experienced difficulty on my mission, I've experienced rejection and everything in the like, but again this week, I came to one of those odd realizations that missionary work, although completely normal to me now, is super strange to others. We met a lot of people this week who asked us why we were out here, and I just said, "Masaya po kami magbahagi sa inyo!" (We're happy to share with you!) and they just tilt their heads in confusion. One pair of woman asked, "Do you get paid?" and when I explained that we actually pay for most of our mission ourselves, they were aghast. Agog and aghast, one might say. To a lot of people, even among my close friends and family, I'm beginning to understand how odd my decision to serve a mission might seem to them. I do it because alam ko po na ang mensahe namin ay totoo! I know it's true, how can I not share it?

Though that sometimes didn't distract from the difficulties of the week. On Tuesday, I had exchanges with Sister Lang, and again as I always do with exchanges, I had perfected a fool proof plan of lessons with many possible back-ups. And, as usual on such days, the plan perfectly fell through. From 10:30 to 5pm, our lessons totaled to wala. I was just a little upset, We started to tract then. In the midst of our disappointment, our exhaustion, and the down right criminal heat of the afternoon, I was having a hard time keeping chipper. We were talking about how we just wanted it to be a little cooler, for a little wind to cheer our spirits. I just wanted something to work out. I wanted to give up, because I was so tired and very hot, and my shoes were killing me since my usual ones have holes the size of dimes in the soles and my other shoes were making the tops of my foot literally bleed. I just wanted a little bit of comfort. Sister Lang grabbed my shoulders and shook me a little and said, "Sister Green. I love you, God loves you, so we have to keep going. The breeze always comes!" 

And there it was. The phrase that has quickly enveloped into my motto for my mission, the phrase that the sisters have quickly picked up in order to motivate me. Consider it to be my version of the kitten poster that says, "Hang in there". After that, we walked tall (though painfully, in my case). We picked a different area, we tracted, we found and taugh three people, one of which is potentially golden, and then we tracked down two of the original lessons planned. At the end of the day, we had five lessons, I had blisters, but the breeze came. 

We had a lot of really amazing lessons this week. Annie told us that she really liked our message and that she wanted to come to church because her current one "didn't teach her anything". Then another investigator, Rhea, told us she was going to come to church because she felt that she might like it. We've been looking for less actives (In the Philippines, more members are inactive than active) and we discovered the Tayco family, who invited us in without hesitation and promised to come to church. We learned later that that particular family was known to be "a lost cause" in the ward since they always slam the door in missionaries' faces, but with us, they had immediately let us in, and promised us a lesson every week. Tender mercies are all up in this area now! Things are changing! The caravan is moving on!

And then the sad. The people who promised us to come to church? Not one of them came. We were so shocked and very much discouraged. I was trying to keep a good spirit around me, but ooph, it was a tough morning. We were investigator-less at church, so that was a huge bummer.

We went to see Melinda yesterday afternoon to teach her about prophets. This is the lady who came to church with her children without us teaching a lesson to her. She listened with interest and told us that she thought about going to church with us, but she felt bad because she said that everyone at the church was wealthier than her, and that she felt like she was from a different world, with different clothes. I wanted to hug her till she passed out. She said that she had had such a wonderful experience last week, she really appreciated the values we taught, and that when she hadn't come to church that morning, she had regretted it shortly after. She said that everyone at the church was so kind to her, so she recommitted to come to church this next Sunday. Progressing! I am so excited for her. We've taught her once and she's already more astig than our investigators we've taught for months.

Funny thing. I was walking down the street, and a little boy that I didn't know passed me. He didn't smile at me, he didn't scream "Americana" at me, he didn't chase me like a lot of other kids, he didn't even hardly look at me! But as he passed me, he just calmly held his hand above his head, and I in turn held out mine, and we high-fived, saying absolutely nothing. He kept walking his way, and I continued down the road. But after a minute of walking, I had to laugh. Thank you for that genuinely encouraging high-five, little boy. You made my day better. 

I had a lot of frustration with Tagalog this week. At an investigator's house, her sister joined in on our lesson. Her sister speaks an odd mixture of Tagalog and Bicol, the specific dialect of the province that I don't know a single word of. Bicol and Tagalog to me are brownies and orange juice. I don't understand a word of it, and I was getting so frustrated because she kept asking me questions and I didn't - couldn't - understand. My inability to speak came off as very aloof to these young women as I found out. They were asking me very odd questions, if I washed my own clothes, if I did my own dishes, if I had a maid back home. We found out that two elder missionaries had visited their house once, and the mother was ready to receive them, but they wouldn't come into their home because it was too dirty for them. So these two sisters seemed to be very convinced that I was "picky" too, and while Sister Siola'a and I told them I wasn't, their questions and surprise about me doing my own chores showed me that they were under the impression that I was a stuck-up princess, and I just didn't like being viewed that way at all. The lesson itself went well - we actually are giving them a tour of the church on Tuesday, they're very excited. So am I. I really feel they could have potential to progress. That was the good in the experience.

I left the house, and turned back because Sister Siola'a wasn't following me. She was talking to the sisters. I found out when Sister Siola'a joined me that the sister of Arlene, the one I had just met, was asking if I was mad at her. They said that I was too quiet and I didn't smile, and they asked her if I was picky again. I was crushed, and very much felt like crying. I had tried so hard to talk with them, and I had explained my trouble with understanding the language, but I guess my looking to my companion in confusion for interpretation came off as haughty and snobbish. Sister Siola'a reassured me that she had defended me and told them that once someone got to know me, they would know that I am anything but, but oh, I was so sad! I had just wanted to give a good lesson, but my inadequacy with the language got in my way again. I hadn't meant to come off like I apparently did. I just want to be able to speak Tagalog. I just really, really, really want to be able to understand. When explaining this experience to Sister Pace and Sister Lang, they sympathized, having gone through similar experiences. Sister Lang's advice was, "Well, Sister Green. They think you're a perfect, pretty princess who thinks you're too good for them. Now on Tuesday, prove them wrong." Yes. I will. On Tuesday, I'll be the most smiley, happy, talkative sister missionary in the world. I will prove their predictions about me wrong. Next week for details on that.

I had severe stomach pain one day that made it impossible for me to keep working. We went home at 7pm, after me battling through three lessons in hunched-over agony. I recognized the pain, I had experienced it a lot at BYU during nights of studying when I thought I had ulcers. Perhaps stomach acid, but dang, it was painful. I woke up the next morning, perfectly fine, having caught up a little on my sleep. Tender mercy there, for sure, but I hope it doesn't happen any time soon! Yikes! 

Although before I fell asleep that night, I started reading Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society and holy wow, that's a really good book. Now, I'm a little ashamed about this, and I apologize personally to anyone who might be offended, but for a long time before my mission, I was always a little weary of participating in Relief Society, which, for those of you who don't know, is the women's organization of the Church. Our motto is "Charity Never Faileth" and while I was reading this book, I realized how much I had previously thought of Relief Society as that last hour before I could go home on Sundays, that class that I never felt applied to me because I'm not a mother yet and the discussions seemed geared toward something I didn't understand. But reading this book, I suddenly feel my appreciation toward Relief Society growing, and a desire to be 100% active in it when I come home. 

Something is developing in me, during my mission, and not just determination to stick around for that last hour of church. A desire to serve and just be all around better than who I was before. I'm just really excited to recognize my full potential through the service and programs that are available to me. I want to be more active than I've ever been. I want to continue in missionary work in my ward, I want to hold callings that will help me serve others, I want to participate in family history work, I want to be a part of every service activity. Things that I always disregarded seem so important now, and I find myself hardly being able to wait to participate in everything I can. I'm setting goals for myself that I never would have even thought of before. I feel that I know who I want to be now, and I'm finally understanding that through programs in the church (like Relief Society), I have a safe environment and many wonderful mentors to help me become a better person, ready to meet the challenges of the world, not only spiritually, but temporally as well. It feels really good to be so centered on doing right. I've stressed for years about figuring out the future, and even though I don't have everything figured out, it feels amazing to understand that no matter what, I have the resources to get myself on the right track.

Another good thing. We were having another really tough day. Only two lessons taught by 8pm, and they were regular lessons that we teach every week to regular less actives that are receptive, but not committing. So they're sort of like fishing in a bucket. You're gonna catch. Anyway, we were discouraged again, and we decided to call it a night and go home. We were walking home when I just grabbed Sister Siola'a's arm and said, "One more house. Let's just get one more house." Now, believe me, tracting on a Sunday night at 8:30pm? Not easy. We got rejected around three times. Sister Siola's suggested we try a small house, looking for a humble person. So, naturally, which house does Sister Green go for? That's right. The biggest on on the road. Sister Siola'a said, "There's no way they'll let us in." And I said, "'re right. But then again...TAO PO!!!" A few seconds later, a woman came out of the house on a cell phone. We waved at her, and she said into the phone. "I'll call you later. I have visitors. There are two foreigners at my gate." We put on our best "we're not creepy, we swear" smiles for her and talked to her. The lady's name is Diane, and she listened to our introduction and said, "Yeah. Come in." YES. Ugh, so good! We gave her a lesson, she liked it, she liked the sound of the programs in the church, and we have a return appointment with her next Saturday night! Again, such a testimony-builder to me, especially when this week has been so tough. After I've done all I can do, after I've tried my hardest, after I'm about to give up, if I just push a little bit more, if I just say "One more house", that's when the miracles happen.

The breeze always comes.

Love you!
-Sister Green

1) "I Believe I Can Fly"
2) "Tom's Diner" - Suzanne Vega
3) "O Holy Night"
4) "It's Not Over Yet" - AVPS
5) "Space Oddity" - David Bowie (again)
6) "Concerning Hobbits"
7) "Walk through the Fire" -BTVS/OMWF

I guess nobody's home?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week Labing-Siyam Photographs

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The Love Shack gingerbread house
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Eric's seminary class sent me a package!


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Sister Siola'a and I


Week Labing-Siy​am: The Good, The Bad, and The Transfer

Good 'morrow, my friends and family! Can you believe that I've almost been out twenty weeks? I can't. I mean, of course, some days it feels like I've been hear forever, but at the same time, I remember leaving my mom at the airport like it was kahapon.

I had a very chaotic week, that was a mixture of good and bad. Of course, I'm happy to be a missionary, happy to be working, happy to be serving the Lord. Always. But I'd be lying if some weeks weren't a struggle. 

Look at me, I'm making this email seem all sad. It's not! The goods outweighed the bads here. I got a monstrous package from Sister Barton, my brother's seminary teacher, which was literally one of the nicest things ever. Some of my favorite foods, a gingerbread house kit, and an elephant necklace! Ah! So happy!  

First of all, let's talk about transfers. Transfers were on Tuesday. The Assistants to the President stand in front of the room, smiling like demented sadists who enjoy drawing out the suspense of it all and making us squirm. Meanwhile, the rest of the missionaries sit on the benches, waiting to here where their next area is, and then, who their new companion is. Sister Pace's new kasama is the wonderful Sister Lang, which is very awesome since we get along. Next was me. I sat in extreme anxiety, feeling like I was going to throw up. But my worries were in vain. They announced "Sister your new companion...Sister Siola'a!" My new companion happens to be Sister Pace's former (and one of her favorite) companion from a while ago, and Sister Coleman's (my batchmate from the MTC) trainer. Sister Siola'a is from Tonga, she's super nice, and she's a crazy good harmonizer. I already feel super-charged by her. I'm ready to buckle down and make some changes in the area now. I'm ready to make some progress!
The mornng of transfers was tough though. I got a text from Laarni, the investigator I was super excited about, and she doesn't have enough money to stay in Daraga, so she's moving back to Pilar, about an hour away. No more Laarni. I was basically crushed.

Prescilla, my recent convert, was really sick this week. She was in the hospital for a night. We saw her in church though, so hopefully she's doing a little better.

I finished Jesus the Christ. That is one quality book if you have the time. I feel like I have such a stronger knowledge of my Savior's life now.
The bad part of the week was that I fasted for an investigator of ours to attend a baptism in order to observe and feel the spirit. And no one came. I was so frustrated and angry at myself, thinking that I must have done something wrong that disqualified me for that blessing. Some of that perfectionism-twisted-thinking again, yuck. I know that everyone has their agency, but sometimes it's easy to think that I just wasn't faithful enough. I forgot my purpose, which is to invite others to come onto Christ. My job isn't to force them into conversion. I'm an instrument. But in my discouragement, I forgot that. After the baptism, I asked Elder Brown and Elder Madsen for a priesthood blessing. I felt awkward asking, like it was a sign of weakness, but the AP's told me that asking for help was a sign of humility. I guess I hadn't thought about it that way. And then, when Elder Madsen blessed me, one of the first things he blessed me with is that I would remember my purpose. I hadn't even told him that that was one of the things I was stressed about, and there it was. I felt the spirit course into me. I felt good for the first time in what seemed like an eternity, though it had only really been a few hours. It was a reminder to me that God is taking care of things in his time and that I just need to be patient. Even though a lot more disappointments have come this week, I'm trying to remember the tender mercies of the Lord. My trials make me stronger anyways, even though they hurt sometimes. I'm just trying to remember that blessing. It helped me so much and gave me so much encouragement.

While tracting and OYMing with Sister Siola'a, we had some major success. We met a woman named Annie, who is so nice I could die, and who we have a set appointment with, then we met with Rhea, an investigator that easily absorbed the LDS belief of living prophets and told us she believed us, and then, our crowning moment of happiness was with Melinda. She looked rather uninterested in us but allowed us to sit down. We mentioned church on Sunday and though we didn't teach her, we just started talking about our Sunday schedule and the programs the church has. She immediately said, "What time? I'll come." At first, I didn't allow myself to believe her. But as we kept talking, she just kept saying that she'd come with her kids. The next day, although late, she actually came! With three of her children! Her kids enjoyed primary and she said that next week, she wanted her other child to come AND she said she'd invite her sister! We haven't even taught her a lesson yet, and still she's already dedicated to coming to church. I have really huge hopes for her and her children. If we had given up tracting because we were tired and hot, we would never have met her. I'm so thankful for God's gentle pushes to continue. When I've done all I can do, if I just push a little harder, that's when the blessings come.

Valentines day, I sang "It's Friday, I'm in Love" in my head (whoops) and we used the gingerbread kit to make a "Love Shack" to celebrate our loveless holiday. Super fun. I'll include pictures.

Everything is good. This week was hard, but I know everything will be okay. Just a mountain to climb, right? 

I hope all of you had a good week. Sorry this week's email is a little short, I'm low on time. Keep me in your prayers, won't you? You're the best.

Love, Love, Love,
Sister Green

No Earworms this week! Can you believe it?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Week Labing-Wal​o: Goodbye Jaya

Today is my last day of my training in the field. I've officially been in the Philippines for twelve weeks, and now I've "graduated" in a sense to the real missionary mantel. This is brilliant in some aspects, such as not being viewed as the greenie as much (which trust me, with my last name, I get enough jokes as it is), I'll hopefully have a little more self confidence, and perhaps as a missionary with the newly bestowed privilege of taking off my training wheels, I'll have the opportunity to show my leaders that I'm ready to step up to the challenge. This new page is rather bitter-sweet though, since my trainer, guide, and companion, Sister Jayasekara, is going home. Her eighteen months are up, her mission over. Yesterday was our last real day of missionary work together, which was beyond surreal. It was odd to have little reminders of "the last time", like "this is the last time I'm going to triple check with Sister Jaya if she has the keys", "this is the last time we'll teach a lesson together", and "this is the last time we'll be hideously rejected together". The past twelve weeks with Sister Jaya have been wonderful, tearful, stressful, hilarious, and spiritual. A mixture of ups and downs, but always ending with a smile. Sister Jaya has taught me so much about patience, obedience, and humility. She was, is, and always will be a fantastic missionary. She is returning with honor for sure. I am super blessed to have her as my trainer, and even more blessed to have her as a friend. Today is our last day as companions. Tomorrow, I go to the chapel in the morning to meet and pick up my new kasama. I'm excited, but also kind of scared as this entire week, my mind has been plagued by the anxious and childish question: "What if they don't like me?" I know, so much for taking off the training wheels, right? I mean, I know I'll be fine. My more logical state of mind is telling me I'm silly for stressing about this. I've just never been one super stoked about change, and the horror stories (or mountains to climb) that I've heard about clashing companionships are enough to make me nervous. The suspense is killing me! Whatever. It's all going to be good. Next week you'll get to here about the new kasama and me having adventures and teaching up a storm.

It's quite warm here in the Phillies. My parents sent me pictures of their snow storm in Japan and I nearly died from wanting it so bad. You know how a few weeks ago I was telling you all how I heated water so I could have hot showers? Yeah, no more of that. Now, the cold bucket shower is the ultimate relief from the heat. Right now, my best friends are my fan, my bucket shower, and my water bottle.
This week was fun. Very frantic with a lot of change going on, but fun all the same. We taught Laarni again, who I am basically jiving to teach again (tomorrow!), because ugh, does she have potential. She doesn't just sit passively and nod and pretend that she's understanding or listening. When we had her read things for us, she would stop mid sentence and ask for the definition of a word immediately if she didn't know it. She's really great about asking questions, and she seems genuinely interested in the gospel. Tomorrow, we're watching the Restoration video with her. I'm really excited for her, I think that she's open-minded and humble enough to progress. 

Sister Jaya and I really upped our game on OYMing (open your mouth) this week, which is when we just walk up to random people and ask if we can teach them. On a day of low lessons, when everyone had cancelled on us (again), Sister Jaya and I just started tracting and OYMing, and we met three different people, and all three of them in a row let us teach them! Progressing! Love it! I also was on a Jeepney the other day and there was a woman and her daughter sitting across from me, and even though I was nervous I just felt prompted to talk to her, so I did and we gave them a pass along card. She said we could teach, but she wanted to ask her husband first. So hopefully she calls us.

Sister Jaya had to go to a departing missionaries career workshop, so two sister missionaries, the companions of the other departing girls, were entrusted to my care. So me, the greenie, led around Sister Fabia and Sister Iqbal - two great missionaries. Sister Fabia is an adorable Filipina with great english who looks like she should be Disney's first Filipina Princess. She's basically adorable, and I love her and how she can so easily talk with other people. She really helped me during language study pronouncing words and helping me phrase doctrine in my own style. Sister Iqbal is from Pakistan and she is even more determined than me to get into houses! I waited for five minutes, occasionally calling "Tao po!" to a house, but then I sighed and made to leave, but then Sister Iqbal hammers on the door for another five minutes, yelling "TAO PO!" every ten seconds. Wow, she is determined, and I like that a lot. 

I really wanted to impress these sisters, and show them that I'm a competent missionary, so I perfectly planned out a good full day of lessons for us and was confident in that plan. I just really want to show everyone that I can do this, since a lot of the time, I'm tempted to feel like I can't. Stupid nagging thoughts, go away! Anyway, after this perfect plan, guess how many lessons we taught? You guessed it. Zero. Zip. Wala. We went to every house, texted every available investigator, and tracted more than five houses, but no one let us in. For six hours, we had nothing to show but exhausted feet. I was practically beside myself with frustration - I had just wanted to show Sister Fabia and Sister Iqbal that I was a good missionary, and even though they assured me that the investigators using their agency in a less than ideal way was no fault of mine, I still felt upset. But then, a thought popped into my head. I had been so self-absorbed all day. I had wanted to teach all those people to prove myself a good missionary, not because I wanted to further their understanding of the gospel. I had been supremely selfish and prideful, and oh, the realization was enough to humble me to the dust. From now on, I'm not doing anything for me. It's time to rid myself of pride and just serve for others, not for some thinly veiled desire of praise. I hadn't even realized I was doing it, but that day, I had forgotten my purpose as a missionary. The experience was a wonderful and essential lesson for me that I know God gave me to learn. I'm ready to change for the better. Time of be an unprofitable servant (Luke 17:1-10).

Message received, application pending.

In other news, I mastered making perfect pancakes for my roommates. Okay, I know that this is a childish accomplishment compared to the one I mentioned above, but it's a big deal for me! I always either under-cook or burn them at home, so I'm really excited that I discovered this secret of the universe. In the future, prepare yourself to be invited to a lot of pancake parties.

We also went to Cena Una this week again, as most of a district with the Nelsons, our senior missionary couple. Twas I who created the event, and since I knew that the Nelsons love Cena Una, I used the opportunity to visit my favorite restaurant. I'm hoping my next kasama will love Cena Una too. The Cena Una experience was delicous and fun, and a proper send off to Sister Jaya and Elder Laurente, who we are losing to the real world. It also helped us gear up for transfers.

Transfers are terrifying. You never know what the Assistants to the President are going to do with you, whether or not you'll stay in an area for eight months or whether you'll be rooted up after only six weeks and shipped off to an island where all they eat is fried fish. Come transfers, every missionary is on edge, their eyes on the cell phone, awaiting the message that could completely shift everyone around. The text came on Saturday. I'm staying put. Elder Wilcox is leaving our district...and so is Sister Donato. Oh my gosh, my sadness is great. I'll miss her so much, and although she assured me we'd see each other at conferences and stuff, it still is likely that I won't see her more than once before she goes home in July. I told Sister Pace, "It's like my family is being torn apart," and she only assured me that my family would get bigger from here on out. Here's hoping! Sister Pace and I both get new kasamas tomorrow! Our house is changing.

Something awesome happened. Sister Ai, a woman in my ward, was bearing her testimony, and she was talking about how she had been trying to get pregnant again for the past three years, but she had a medical condition that made it impossible. But she just kept being faithful and working hard, and she said that by a miracle, she found out last week that she was going to have another child. She testified with tears that she knew that Heavenly Father had answered her prayer because she had worked hard to magnify her calling in church and being honest in her job. She then said this beautiful testimony: "We always work so hard at work, we were so tired, but at the end of the day, I could smile. I am so thankful because the Lord has taught me that good always wins." 

Good always wins. 

I hope things are all good where all of you are. I miss and love you very much. Thanks for the occasional emails of love and support. They really do mean a ton to me. Thanks for reading these excessive emails, and I'm sorry if they're too long or too random or just crazy. I enjoy filling you in on the details, even if the details seem mundane. I hope all of you have an amazing week. Wave goobye to Sister Jayasekara! *wail*

Tune in next time for the revealing of Sister Green's new kasama!

Every person is different and has a different contribution to make. No one is destined to fail." - President Henry B. Eyring
Mahal Kita!

Sister Green

-"Lover of the Lights" (Mumford and Sons)
-"Billie Jean" (MJ) Some kids were dancing to it in a neighborhood as I walked by. It took a lot of self control not to join them
-"Leaving on a JetPlane" (Peter Paul&Mary)
-"Goodbye Stranger" For Sister Jaya

Week Labing-Walo: Buko and Rocks

 Awkward photo of me and rocks

        The Buko: Step one, drink the coconut milk

          Step two: scoop out and eat the buko

 Step three: get grossed out by the buko

Week Labing-Wal​o Photographs

Bye, Sister Donato! I love her!

Check my style. My first bowl of cereal since the MTC. Yay for powdered milk! 

Me, Sister Fabia, and Sister Iqbal

Mayon is photo-bombing!

Nanay Macader! Saying goodbye!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Week Labing-Pit​o: You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine

I FEEL GOOD! *Da-na-na-na-na-na-na* I knew that I would now!

Busy week, though, to be honest, it seemed a lot of the time to be really unproductive. The problem with our area is that it is SO big, the biggest in our zone, and it's right in the heart of the city, so it's very busy too. It probably stretches three miles in every direction from the middle, and while that might not seem very much, we walk back and forth a lot. Investigators tell us a "set" time for an appointment, so we walk all the way to their house, and then they cancel or aren't home, so we have to walk all the way back to the other side of our area for the next one. We do a lot of walking. My legs are beastie.

We had exchanges this week with the Sister Training Leaders (my roommates). I had to lead the area and show Sister Pace that I'm a competent missionary. I tried my super hardest to walk tall, say hi to people, and talk in Tagalog as much as I could with confidence instead of fear. It was fun with Sister Pace, although I think she got frustrated with me when we spent most of language study with her trying to help me get the difference between kaibigan and kaibigan. Yeah. They're the same, right? But apparently, the meaning changes depending on how you stress the i. This was the subject of our study because apparently that morning, when a woman we tracted said she knew a member of the church, I was trying to ask, "Is she your friend?" but apparently I asked, "Is she your lover?" Luckily, she didn't hear me. But after forty minutes of practice, I've got it down. I think. 

Sister Lang and Sister Gardner, two american sister from the Masbate area, an island in another zone, came to visit since they had a meeting in the city. We exchanged with them for the evening, Sister Lang and me splitting and taking on half of the area while Sister Gardner and Jaya covered the other. Sister Lang  is really really good in Tagalog. We tracted one house, and before we even opened our mouths, the girl waved us in with a grin. Sister Lang, who had previously told me the difference two Americans can make, learned over and said "Two whities, I'm telling you." The girl we met was Leernie (not sure on spelling, there), a sixteen year old that talked super fast and welcomed us with open arms. She told us about being visited by elders before, and she answered our questions with ease. At the end of our lesson, we easily set up a return appointment with her, and she took pictures with us for her Facebook. 

The Masbate sisters ended up staying with us for four days, since there was a storm in Masbate and no boats were leaving. We ate at Cena Una, my favorite fancy restaurant here, where the food is dang good, the desserts are divine, and the service members basically stand around you table (sometimes awkwardly) and give you everything you could ever want. The mango crepe and the choco-punch boulder desserts are my favorite. When I someday come back the the Phillies with my fam, guess where we're going every evening? 

Though most of the week was full of disappointments when it came to consistent lessons, Sister Jaya and I did have one, really great experience. Now, the reason for my title is actually a woman named Sunshine. We met her early this week while tracting; we found her and this couple chilling having a good Sunday afternoon. We taught them all the first lesson, and then set up appointments with both of their families for separate days. Yesterday, we found out the Karrin and Ryan don't want to hear from us anymore, a major bummer since they had shown interest, but this story is not a sad one! 

Moving on to the good stuff. Sunshine's return appointment was first. Sunshine's house is up a literal mountain, quite the trek for us, but oh my gosh, what a lesson. Especially in the midst of our disappointments, Sunshine's lesson was amazing. We had only planned to teach about prophets, but the spirit was urging Sister Jaya and me to go on, so we didn't even have to confirm to each other the need to continue. We taught prophets, Christ's earthly ministry, the apostasy, and Joseph Smith's First Vision. During which, Sunshine listened carefully, her eyes trained on us. She asked clarifying questions and told her children to be quiet so she could here. She offered the closing prayer, which literally made my heart feel like it was too big for my chest, and like my soul was jumping for joy. Sister Jaya asked her how she felt afterward and Sunshine just put a hand over her heart and said that she felt warm and happy and that God was talking to her. It was so beautiful and moving. She gave us hugs and kissed our cheeks. We're teaching her again on Tuesday, and I'm so excited. There is Sunshine in my soul today!

Today was really fun. It was our district activity, so we all (minus Sister Jaya sadly, she flew to Manila to do visa stuff) traveled by jeepney to a place called Embarcadero, which is a mall on a pier in Legazpi. I finally got to see the ocean, which was ultra exciting for me. We took pictures and tried to go bowling, but the place was closed. So we ended up traveling again to Cagsawa, a famous park that's featured in a lot of google images when you search for pictures of Mount Mayon - It is the ruins of a bell tower that has been transformed into a national park for tourists. We took pictures, played games, and I had my first "Buko", which is just fresh coconut. It was really weird, and somewhat gross, but the elders said that I'll be addicted to it by the end of my mission. Today was also the hottest day yet on my mission. I'm not keeping it crisp, folks. Though only February, the "coldest" months in the Philippines are now over. 

This week was a mix of bad and good, a mix of discouragement and happiness, weakness and finding strength. I'm always learning something new, always discovering something about myself that I didn't know before. Things that I used to stress over don't seem important as I feel myself giving over to the mission a little more. The other day, I read my first name on a piece of paper and I wrinkled my nose at it. Shannon? Is that even my name? Who the freak is that? I seriously was having an identity crisis, wigging out to Sister Jaya that I couldn't believe that people call me Shannon. I said the weird name fifty times in a row and I just couldn't imagine anyone calling me that anymore. I'm Sister Green right now. I literally can't imagine anyone calling me anything else. I can't believe I'm almost done with training. One more week and Sister Jayasekara will be going home, and I'll have a new kasama, a new adventure. My training is coming to a close, I'm a "real" missionary now. I'm excited for change. I can't believe I've almost been out four months now. Fifteen more to go! Seriously, this mission will be gone before I know it. Insane in the membrane. 

I love and miss all of you. Sorry for being a little short this week - I'm sure next week will have more "oomph" to it, di ba? I'm doing good for those who might worry about me. I'm just trying to progress a little more. Time to push harder!


Mahal kita!
-Sister Green

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

"Pocket Full of Sunshine"
"I Feel Good" - James Brown
"Love is for the Birds" - Taylor Olson

No pictures because the internet is being idiotic. Which is super sad, since I had some good ones! Ugh! Next week, promise!