Kumusta pamilya at mga kaibigan ko!!!
Where do i even begin??! Well, I made it safely to laoag, thats a good start right haha! So, we got into laoag around 7pm wednesday night along with an lds family who was picking up their sister missionary...and it was a good thing they were there because the mission pres wan't expecting us but they were there picking up the family! I guess salt lake told them we weren't coming until thurs morning, but all turned out well, we were taken to the mission home (which is SUPER nice) and we waited around for traininng to finish (they were training our new trainers) and then we all had pizza together. It was so crazy to believe I was there...the mtc seemed like a very distant dream. All of the trainers were really nice, all of the sisters were filipino and only 2 elders were american. After dinner pres odjers let us go to bed early thank goodness because we were EXHAUSTED! The next morning we waited around for some new missionaries from the manila mtc to arrive and while we waited we had our interviews with pres odjers--i love him and sis odjers!! Full of energy and very nice and welcoming. one of the sisters told us that they are way cool and down to earth, she said we could talk to them about anything. Once the new missionaries came we had an introduction meeting and learned about the mission and got to know each other, then we had dinner then it was testimony meeting and then we got to go to bed early again. The next morning we had breakfast with all of the trainers then met together to find out our areas and our new comps!!!
So my trainer is Sis. Rivera, she is filipino and speaks english but not very well...lol we have fun trying to talk to one another! And I am staying in Laoag for my first area...Laoag 3rd ward, its about 15 min away from the mission home. At first I really wanted to go far away out in the boonies...however, am i ever grateful that i am here!! we got to our apartment at about 1130, on friday...i suddenly missed home, even the mtc very much haha! i could not believe what i was going to be living in...and the city was crazy--everything was just like i thought and just like what was described to me but you know, no one can ever be fully prepared for something like this! We got right into the work, we started planning for the day and the week and sis rivera told me what parts of each lesson i would do and which ones she would do--crazy!!! We left the apartment around 5 and went to some "appointments" haha, you don't really make appointments here, no one has any sense of time, you just kinda show up at people's houses or randomly see them walking around lol, its unbelievable. we were able to teach a few lessons and i did the best i could. We taught one girl who is 9 yrs old, actually there are three 9 yr old investigators and when we taught them they kept laughing at me trying to speak tagalog and they wanted me to say the opening prayer and laughed through that...awesome lol. I'm not gonna lie, that first day I just wanted to cry and go right back home. I thought that once i got here i would automatically love it and not have any problem with culture shock, i was very much mistaken, i wasn't ready for this!
The next day my feelings hadn't changed much, all during personal study i just wanted to cry then when we did comp study sis rivera asked how i was and i started crying haha! i told her i was very grateful to be here and that she was my comp but that this is harder than i thought and also i was frustrated because i couldn't help her with the lessons, i said a couple sentences and then just sat there having no idea what anyone was saying, especially since everyone was speaking ilocano!! she cried with me lol, what a sight! Even after the crying session i still wasn't feeling any better but we went to the church building and Heavenly Father gave me a tender mercy....There was another sis missionary there that left the mtc 6 wks before me so i knew her a little bit and she came up and gavve me a hug (which didn't help the wanting to cry situation) and she kept asking me how i was and i told her ever since i got here i had been on the verge of tears. She was so helpful! She said we were in the same district for one thing so we'd see each other once a week and she told me that she didn't like it at all for like 3 weeks but one day she just woke up and realized that she loved it! Talking to her gave me a lot of hope! It's not that i hated it at first, it was jsut really hard to be here. It's good to know that i have someone close by who knows exactly waht im feeling!
Church was very interesting...it was 1/3 in english, 1/3 in tagalog and 1/3 in ilocano haha! Quite amusing! They had me get up in sacrament and bear my testimony in my broken tagalog--again with the tears, i swear ive never wanted to cry so much lol and i don't even know why! i just told them all that i couldn't speak very well but i loved them haha. I have progresively started liking it and loving the people. sis rivera is amazing, i couldn't ask for a better trainer. She is very patient with me and i can tell that she really wants to help me. She has been here for 6 transfers already ( a very long time) so she knows the area very well and the people all know her and love her. The ward members are all raelly nice and understanding and want to help me as well. Some of them also are quick to give me suggestions on how i can learn the language and what i said wrong but i know it's out of love and a desire to help me lol! There is a less active family, the Guillermo family, that we go to a lot and we taught them on saturday night. Sis rivera had me teach them about faith and hope from helaman 12:4 so i said a little bit about it and shared the scripture then sis rivera asked them something about hope and one of the daughters answered and started crying during her reply, eventually the whole family was crying (even their 8 yr old boy) and so was sis rivera! What was even going on?? i had no idea, i could really feel the spirit though and the love that this family had for one another. It was interesting too, that morning i just started studying helaman 12 and then shared waht i learned with sis rivera. then when we planed what to teach this family she told me to share taht scripture. I truly feel like i was guided by the Lord to study that. And then guess what?! The mom was at church yesterday! This work is so amazing and the had of God is definitely in these people's lives. We really just need to help them see that.
Well, you probably want to know about my apartment and the city....there's no place like home, that's for sure! The philippines is so so beautiful and green!!!! Other parts...not so much like our apartment for example..its very old and dirty, however i think it's nicer than other ones i will have in the future! our bathroom is about as big as the Gerbers shower...actually it isn't even a bathroom, i would call it a shower with a random toilet and sink put in there. There's no divider so when we shower the whole bathroom gets wet! and the toilet, yeah that's just grosse, there is no lid or even a seat! but hey there is toilet paper haha we ahve a health poster from the mission home up in our house and it says to ALWAYS use toilet paper....awesome that it needs to say that. actually, we were at one teaching appointment and i used the bathroom and there wasn't toilet paper and it didn't flush at all! There are bugs all over our house, not very many spiders but plenty of cocoroaches! and there is a goat on a leash across the street and a rooster on a leash around the corner which is the funnieset thing!! I will get a picture of that one day for sure, its jsut on the side of the street in front of the church building! And i can't believe how most of these people live, just brick walls and sheets and tin roofs, dirt floors kids running around everywhere. But they are happy, life is hard but they're happy. I get called beautiful a lot haha. We'll just be walking down the street and someone will call out "sister you are beautiful!" I haven't eaten anything too wierd yet, sis rivera cooks for us all of our meals...some things id rather not eat but i don't want to hurt her feelings. last night i ate a chunk of fat...mmmmmm!
I really feel like i will be loving it in no time, so dont worry about me :) i just laugh to myself sometimes at the things i see and feel! The Lord is with me no doubt about that, i have seen Him use me already and it makes me excited for when i can be more of an instrument in His hands. The church is definitely true in all parts of the world, God's language is universal, thank goodness! He knows and loves ALL of His children. I am in Laoag speaking tagalog for a reason, of coarse it would be much easier for another filipino to take my place and have me back in the states in a comfy way of living, but God has all wisdom and power, He knows the beginning from the end and my trust is only in Him. I know that I will be able to look back on this and be grateful and be able to see the fruits of my many labors. Thank you so so so much for your prayers and love!! It is truly a blessing to be here!!!
I'm sure there are so many more things i could say but time is up, i will maybe be sending pics next week!!! And guess waht, you can still used dearelder.com!! Sweet huh!? Talk to ya'll soon!!!
Mahal ko kayo!!!