Amelia HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! (a few days ago) I hope you had such a great day, I thought about you all day and prayed for you that you would enjoy your 13th birthday :) Hopefully you got my card in the mail too. I can't believe you’re a teenager now, that is crazy! I miss you all so much, especially when things here get tough I think about you all and it makes me want to cry. But I just try to push those feelings away and focus on the work.
Well I'm finally in the Philippines!!! ahh! It is really nothing like I expected HA. It’s definitely hot and VERY humid but I love the atmosphere. I'll try to remember from the beginning all my thoughts and feelings when I got here. Leaving the MTC was so hard :( Sister Wilson and I came down with all our luggage ready to leave and we opened the door and our sweet elders were all standing there singing God Be With You Till We Meet Again. AWE.. they are the cutest! They helped us with our luggage and walked us to the bus; we all said a prayer together before we got on. Sister Wilson and I started crying when we got on the bus! They all waited and waved till we were out of site, I am going to miss them all so so much. The flight to Tokyo was so LONG but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, I didn't sleep well so I just studied and read my scriptures. There were a lot of us traveling together, we all met in Tokyo and all together there were about 30 of us, all going to different places in the Philippines. 8 were going to Quezon City. We came in at about 9:30 am and we all got picked up from our different missions and we stayed in a hotel for that night. In the morning they took us to the mission home and we met President Delamare and his wife they are awesome I love them! I had an interview with him and he really is such a kind and strong leader. We get a new mission president in July so I won't have him too long unfortunately.
My new companions name is Sister Sabiano, she is 22 years old and she is Filipino, I can't pronounce the name or spell where she's from but just know she's full Filipino. She speaks pretty good English but she is more comfortable speaking Tagalog so she just always speaks it to me which is good because it will help me learn the language faster. I absolutely LOVE her. She is so patient with me during lessons and I have already learned much from her. I am her first trainee; she has been out in the mission for 6 months. She is hilarious and we have a lot of fun together.
My area is called Cogeo. It is a province. Our mission consists of City land and Province. That’s probably why I was so shocked when I got here because I always thought I would be mostly in the city. I thought that was what Quezon City entailed but nooo… I am in a really poor area. We literally teach people in tiny little bamboo huts on the side of these mountains! Our apartment is actually in fairly good condition compared to the others, that’s what the other sisters have been telling me. We share it with another companionship Sister Taupale (Samoan) and Sister Fuertes (Filipino) they are also so cool and we all get along very well together. We travel to our areas and meet up for meals etc.. There is no shower ha-ha just a bucket, ladle and a drain. So that’s been something I have been getting used too. Also our toilet does not work we have to pour a bucket of water in it to flush. We don’t really have a lot of bugs thank goodness. We travel around by jeepney or tricycle, they are cheap and super fun ha-ha. The language is Crazy! It is so fast and I have a hard time keeping up but I can already tell that I am getting better, I constantly learn new things every day and I just always try to talk in Tagalog so I incorporate the new things I learn and I remember them better that way. All the other missionaries always speak the language with each other too which is awesome, it helps me learn.
Sister Sabiano is a very hard worker and a great missionary, her testimony is so strong I feel really blessed to be her companion. I cried my third day here. The work is so much harder than I ever thought it would be. We go out proselyting by 1:30 and we don't stop till 8pm. We don't stop for dinner or anything, just keep walking and teaching lessons. My second day out we taught 9, 45 minute lessons which Sister Sabiano said was the most she has ever done in one day. I was EXHAUSTED. All these less actives and investigators we teach live on huge mountains and there are just clusters of little homes all over the place and we hike to each one. We alternate which area we will cover throughout the week, some areas are out in the rainforest in little bamboo huts, and then others are made out of cement and tin. All with dirt floors and no furniture so we just sit on the floor and teach our lessons. I have a hard time following during lessons, I don't know where to pick up when Sister Sabiano turns to me because I don't catch all that she says or the investigators, so that is the most frustrating thing. I cried on Friday after our 3 hour weekly planning session. We have SO many people to teach and I don't know or remember any of their names because they are all weird Filipino names and I was totally overwhelmed. It has been better the last few days though, I have been feeling comforted which I know is the lords doing, I cannot do this on my own but I know I can do it with the lords help.
Sister Sabiano told me about her family life and she said that her parents basically told her to not come back after her mission because they don't want a return missionary in their home. But every day she has a smile on her face and she is still a hard worker. She was converted 6 years ago along with her younger brother by missionaries. I admire her so much! And also our roommate sister Taupale, she is done in 3 months, but while she was in the MTC her mother got sick and within 2 weeks she died from cancer. Then two months later her father died. And she still decided to finish her mission. If these two Sisters can still go out and testify of this gospel after all of that and with no support system, and sacrifice 18 months of their lives for this work, how true must this gospel and this work be. I love being here, it is going to be the hardest 18 months of my life but I can do it, I know how important this gospel is. I'm sure there will be more tears along the way but I am confident in knowing that I was sent here for a reason, and I cannot let a day go by where I don't try my hardest because I might miss the purpose for me being here.
We had the opportunity to host a temple tour on Saturday where we set up stations around the temple and other missionaries bring their investigators and go around to each station that talks about each ordinance that is performed in the temple. We had Baptisms for the dead, and it was so fun. I got to meet a lot of the missionaries in the area and I saw Sister Wilson! We ran to each other and hugged. I asked her how her first days went and she just looked at me and said "it's hard". I could just see it in her face that her first few days had not gone so well, I've been praying for her that she will feel comforted and that it will get better. I saw a few of the others that we traveled with and they all said the same thing” it's hard” and they all also cried their first days too ha-ha.
Sunday was awesome our ward is so great; it's small just about 40 people we have tons of less actives. But I love the bishop and the relief society president is so sweet. I am going to love this area! Also I love our district. There are 8 of us that cover the Cogeo area.
Today is p-day (Monday) so I will email around this time every day. We get to wash our laundry today (by hand) ha… so that should be fun!
Sorry this is insanely long! I tried to think of everything but I have more weekly emails to tell you more. I love you all sooo much, listen to the spirit and have so much fun doing the pageant I think about you every day. Please don't worry about me; Sister Sabiano is taking care of me :)
Mahal ko kayo!