30 December 2013

Letter 9 (Syem): I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Hey Panimalay and Mga Abyan!
Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas season! I know I did! I can't believe tomorrow is New Years Eve!
58F in the house because of a temperamental heater just sounds terrible. Would you all believe me when I say that I'm wearing a jacket for a second day in a row? I don't know the official temperature or anything, but it's been stormy here (aka, the clouds haven't gone away for 2.5 days, and it rains on and off depending on the weather's mood). Saturday I was getting a bit chilled, and we were invited to this dinner of the Stake President's family (turns out it was actually a Christmas party), and it was on the roof of the building, and I had goosebumps! It probably wasn't even that cold! (by Utah Standards in the summer)
And I get cold at district meeting too, because the air-con (Air conditioning) Actually works really well. I'm sure some of you are shaking your heads going, "Wow, only Sister Smith." 
Star Lanterns
It's really sad, they're taking down their Christmas lights (or not lighting them anymore) and that's how I first had the Philippines, so it doesn't very complete with all the decorations coming down. . .
The week before Christmas was really great! We talked to a lot of new people, got some new investigators, and taught our current investigators and had some awesome experiences. Then Christmas happened. . . It's great that everyone is spending time with their families. . . Out of Town! Yep, all the members that normally work with us were gone, and our investigators weren't home much either. But hey, after New Years, that Speed Bump should be gone, and we can get back to normal!
I made my first Filipino food! Pansit! it's actually super great! It's rice noodles, carrots, cabbage, pork, and soysauce. That's pansit. And syempre (of course) it goes over rice. It's supposed to be easy (Though I decided to make it in the most infective and long way possible.)
I've reached that point again. . where I don't know what to talk about. Maybe that's because I just talked and talked and talked during skype time. I've run out of things to say!
Maybe because I'm thinking of a verse I came across in my scriptures.

1 Nephi 6:6  Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men.
And I thought about how my journal, and my letters home are kind of like my own plates. So I should make sure not just to make an account on large plates (A history, stories, things about the Philippines, normal journal-ing at the end of the day) and also remember to make Small plates (Like a Scripture Journal!), and remember to account for the spiritual in my week. So. . . Thinking about it.
The ward is so amazing here. You know it's small when you literally only have 2 Young Men, and that's all you really need to effectively pass the Sacrament. The ward is so inviting, and they're so good about fellow-shipping members (as most of them are converts themselves). Even though they're busy people, they still find time to work with the missionaries, and we're very grateful, because they are so wonderful. They are so much better at explaining the more difficult parts of the gospel that we just don't have the vocabulary for yet.
Daily Planning by Candlelight
So Last night when it was raining, and we'd come in for the day, a brownout decided to happen! I'm used to them in the morning, but that just means that the fan doesn't work, and we continue to use sunlight. Luckily I keep my flashlight in my bag, and with that Sister Massé was able to pull out two candles for a Daily Planning By Candle Light! (How. . . romantic? Jokes!)
anyway, I love you all so much! Have a Happy New Year!

25 December 2013

More Christmas Pictures

What Christmas weather should be like.
Lola (granny) Dresses are great.
I'm going to have to get one of my own.
Bear Clown Keychain
(the only way to describe it)

23 December 2013

Letter 8 (walo)

Turns out that our extra skype time comes from our email time this week!

So while that means there isn't a letter this week (sorry to everyone else) I'll just say a MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL. Love you!
Sister Smith
Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

16 December 2013

Letter 7 (Pito): Christmas is almost here?

Dear Panimalay and mga Abyan

I'm going to apologize now, the L key on this key board doesn't work very well (I have to hit it fairly hard) so if there are a bunch of L's missing from this letter, it's because I've gotten lazy.

Alright, here we go! So things I won't miss in 17 months:
1) Laundry by hand
2) The smel of drying fish
3) That sweat on your upper lip that never goes away.
4) No Toilet paper in public CRs
5) Actually, Filipino CRs (Comfort Rooms)

and. . . that's pretty much it! I truly can't emphasize how much I love it here! Sure it's hot (and this isn't the hot season. . .) and when It rains it cools down!

I had my first District Meeting, and it's nice to see other missionaries and see that you're all going through the same things. They get punted (you can't find anyone to teach), you get punted, and you're al in it together!

My district is really awesome, they're all American, and most are from Utah! (hahaha) Poor Sister Marticio, she's the only Pinoy in the entire group.

Let's see. . . What to say? Friday was a Service Project. We got a text from the Zone Leaders, "CSP At --- 8:00 am, President wants everyone to be there." umm... Thanks for the 45 minute warning? So we went! We had to ask 3 jeepneys for directions (and they all replied with a "Meh" attitude), and it wasn't until two nice ladies in the back of the last jeepney gave us better directions. We then asked a lot of security guards (There is one at the door of all the larger stores) the way. Eventually we got there! We were abe to see why no one bothered to give these two American teens complete directions, there were way to many lefts and rights and long strait distances. But we actualy were the first ones to arrive, and on time!
We scooped rice into bags for families for about 3.5 hours, for relief of Typhoon Yolanda efforts. It was pretty fun! I saw Sister Jenkins (She's in my zone) and her Nanay (Trainer) was companions with Sister Massé in the MTC!

We went back this morning to do more, and because we got blisters from the rice cups, we decided to open the bags instead! (How's that for the easiest job?)

So it's been Christmas here for 3 months (Any month that ends in -ber is Christmas Season) So It's weird to think that Christmas is in 9 days! Friday we also had the Ward Christmas Party (We didn't do much Teaching Friday, as you can probaby tell) and we went with two of our investigators (Cherish and Camille. They both are Tagalog speakers, so we do this mix of English and Hiligaynon and it sort of works. All our pamphets are in Tagalog or English here, so that's nice for them.) Also, another one of our investigators, Reynier, came and it really looked like he was enjoying himself. He participated in one of the relays, talked with members, and ate food! But then he had work on Sunday *sigh*. . .
Relay Games!
Ward Parties are definitely very different than from in the states. Louder music for one thing. It also started 1.5 hours late (that woud be why we came 1 hour late). "Thank you for all coming early" pfft! Mormon time does not even compare to Filipino time!

There was a call for "Someone sing a song!" After a few moments of waiting around (Not silence, as it was never quiet) I heard a "SISTER SMITH" and the next thing I know, a Primary boy is pulling me up to the front and I've got a microphone in my hand. Yep, they really like music here. Like our neighbors, who I'm pretty sure were having a drunken, tone deaf karaoke party ast night.(it's so endearing that they have no shame that they're terrible, they just sing because they love it. I love that they're like that. Even if it does make me cringe sometimes)

Speaking of drunken karaoke, we were teaching to an older couple, and they're son came in drunk. Goodbye lesson plan for Baptism and the Holy Ghost, Hello Word of Wisdom Lesson. Yeah. That was an interesting experience.

I ate a CRAB! I actually liked it! I may actually like seafood after this. Sister Marticio had to teach me how to eat it. She helped me a lot.
Crabby the Crab
"Sister Marticio, Do I eat this part?" *I hold it up to my mouth, and put it in my mouth."

"Not that."

Yep, learning experiences. I also ate my first fish here. Yep, it was whole, had eyes, and was looking at me. You just sort of pull the meat off the bones with your fingers, feel for any small bones you missed, and add some rice to it and shovel it in your mouth. That's the only time you ever really eat with your hands here (and with the crab).

Mangos are DELICIOUS! (Namit Gid!) They're so great. I love them (Too bad they're like 25 or 30 pesos. for reference, an apple is 10, and a small/medium sized orange is 5) Oh yeah, everything fresh is sold by weight here. It's a good system, I like it. Buko Juice (Baby Coconut) is great too! it's sweet and has the shredded coconut meat in it. Ice Candy is good too. It's like a snow cone, but with more syrup, and less ice (way more syrup. But not so syrupy, more juicy in concentration)

So food gets really hot here, really fast. Maybe that's because it's a gas stove, and the Philippines doesn't have so many strict safety regulations as the states. . . Hm.... Yeah, I only have to wait a minute for my water to boil for my oatmeal in the morning.

Speaking of food, Hey Mother Dear? Will you do me a favor? (it doesn't have to be now, as you're busy with babysitting for Madrigal Season, and Forgotten Carols and such. Just when everything crazy is over. So it can be in a month, I really don't mind) Can you find me some recipes? Stove top. Dairy is expensive here (But I do have evaporated milk) Please and thank you!

Also, if you haven't sent the family pictures yet, can you send some pictures of my paintings? Or just one of your wall of art. (but don't bother if you've already sent the family pictures. I'll be fine without them.)
 I'm going to have a lot of pretty flowers to paint in 18 months
We watched the Christmas devotiona last night! We had a Member working with us (Sister Shirly, who is awesome) and she was able to show us the way, because we didn't know how to get there. I saw Dad! I love that!

More random Filipino Information: Everyone writes in CAPS. No one really understand Lowercase, so it's all uppercase. So when we fill out our progress records and such, we do it Uppercase, so that the Filipinos can read it.

I shoud write some spiritua things, shoudn't I? Well, it's hard to get investigators to come to church, they say they're shy, or they have work (and so many peope work on Sunday) and to be baptized they have to come 4 times in a row. Yesterday Brother Sulficio came to church ALL BY HIMSELF! We later taught him in the afternoon, and he was absolutely beaming with happiness. His family (of few of his grandchildren) have been in the hospital for various illnesses like pneumonia, and he's so concerned for all his family. But he's committed to baptism and I think he know that this decision will really bless his family. Tani (Hopefully) He continues to come to church.

Salamat for the time zones, Mom, because Sister Massé and I were wracking our brains trying to figure it out. (Her brother will also be skyping home from Africa, so we had to pick a time that didn't interfere with his.) So I'll be Skyping at 8:30am the 26th! So You'll see me Christmas day at 6:30 pm! Sigi? Rumor has it that President has given permission to skype for 2 hours! (And that rumor is from the Sister Training Leaders, so I'm sure it's pretty valid.)

I LOVE YOU ALL (Palangga Ako Sa Inyo!)

- Sister Smith

PS. Don't the power lines just make you cringe? (this picture isn't even the worst of them, because it's on a main road. The poles in the neighborhoods are even worse) Maybe I'll become an electrica engineer instead and come back and fix all the brown out problems. . .
Power LInes

09 December 2013

Letter 6 (Anom): Welcome Sa Pilipinas!


So while the rest of you are enjoying those 8-9 Inches of snow at home, I am enjoying the SUN. From underneath an umbrella. . . (haha, have to protect this skin from being completely fried somehow)
Can you believe I'm halfway around the world??
Before I talk about the Philippines, I have to talk about my last few days in the MTC! We had Thanksgiving Lunch (a sack lunch dinner. . .) Heard Russell M. Nielsen talk, did some service, skipped the Thanksgiving Program (my companions didn't care to go), and bawled my eyes out (well. . mostly) during Ephraim's Rescue! All in all, it was a super awesome day!
Saturday we had our last day in class, and that night, because we weren't allowed to go the gym, we had a District Christmas Party! It was very cute, and we all got our Secret Santa Food (But everyone got everyone else their favorite candy (I think) we all know each other too well. Hahaha) 
District Christmas Party
Sunday we packed, because we didn't have time to pack any other day of the week. We were going to miss Sacrament Meeting, so President Capik asked our Elders to administer it to just us before Mission Conference.

Oh yeah, it was Fast Sunday, so we had Mission Conference! I don't remember who spoke (because all my note taking materials were packed away), but I remember he said that "Glory is Work. Celestial Work is Celestial Glory. And this work you are in, is a Celestial one." (See Moses 1:39) That puts things into perspective!
We said goodbye to the District (tears ensued), but weren't able to say goodbye to the zone because they were still in their District Review Meetings. . .
We took our Luggage to the Travel Office. . . But no one was there! It makes sense that it would be closed on a Sunday. So we had to go to the Information desk, and a security guard let us in, and then the Driver showed up! I guess it's a little strange that three sisters were leaving on Sunday (I'm pretty sure missionaries rarely leave on Sundays. . . Even the Airport workers were surprised to see us!)
I talked to you guys! (Yay Payphones!) and two hours later we were in LA! We finally had dinner.
Then we were on a flight to Manila! I slept through most of it! I got my first taste of Filipino food! Rice is great for Lunch and Dinner, but I've decided it's just not for breakfast. I slept most of the 16.5 hour ride. We had a 45 minute refueling stop in Guam, but since we didn't actually get off the plane, I don't think that counts as a country I've actually been too.
MANILA! It's true, the minute you get off the plane you feel the heat and humidity. However. . . it was a cooler day! It was cloudy, and once we got back inside to the Local flights area we had air-con (That's what A/C is called here).
For the first time in my life, being pale is what people want to be! Unlike the US where everyone wants to be tan, everyone likes how White I am here. Weird right?! They actually care more about my color than my hair! Hahaha! So we get really noticed (and stared at) here.
So we landed in Iloilo! There we really felt the humidity and heat! All of our luggage arrived (Hallelujah) and we walked out to find the person who would be picking us up. . . and they weren't there!
After we stood around for 15 minutes, some nice Filipinos directed us toward the Cafe, who were kind enough to let us use their phone. Sister Jenkins, as travel leader, had the number of the Mission Office. Apparently when our flight plans had been changed no one had bothered telling anyone in Iloilo!! They thought we were coming 24 hours later! (hahaha! It still makes me laugh)
So we waited for a car to come and get us! about and hour and a half later we see a car being driven by Elders! We were so happy to see those white shirts and ties!
They took us to the SM (The Mall) because we'd hadn't eaten much in the past 60 some-odd hours, and we had some nice American Pizza and Cheese cake (Oh how spoiled we were).
We went to the Mission Office, and met President Aquino (Pronounced Akeeno) (He had wanted to meet us at the airport, but he was seeing 15 missionaries off). By then it was 5 or 6 and he told us we could go take a nap in the mission home. So we crossed the parking lot and did! We woke up, and because it was still only about 7:30, Sister Aquino took us out to dinner. It was delicious, but because our schedules were still so off, we weren't able to eat much (And I really wanted to eat more. It was really good). Luckily we have Elders available, and they were called in!  I think I blinked and it was gone. By the way, here you mainly use a spoon to eat. The fork is for holding something down while you cut it with the spoon, and for scooping food onto the spoon.
Sleep at the mission home Tuesday night, (it's weird to think that I technically never had a Monday), and we had orientation Wednesday morning. Guess what, I have to buy 1 inch heels! They're for Church only, and I'm going to have to get some Rubber flats for just normal tracking, because they don't take 3 days to dry out after they get wet. After orientation we went out with the Sisters in the area. I was with Sister Uno and Sister Viliami. Sister Viliami was in the batch (district) before mine! We tracked (oh I was so lost), I had my first Jeepney ride, and taught some lessons (I didn't do much. . as it was kind of overwhelming.). Turns out that you take off your shoes for the nicer floors  (So if it's concrete or tile. Not dirt). We taught one really rich family (a referral from their bishop), and they fed us dinner! (I really truly was spoiled my first few days.) We even got ice cream. I really loved the Mango Cashew, and then the purple icecream is called. . Ubay (oo bye) I think. . and has cheese in it. . Haha, that surprised me, but I like it.

We again slept at the mission home (like I said, we were kind of spoiled) and then we met our trainers!
Sister Massé has been here 12 weeks! (Meaning, she's two batches before me, and just finished her own in-field-training) She's also American, which means No Language Barrier! I love her, she's an amazing Nanay, and is really helping me figure things out here.
Sister Massé,  Sister Lewis and Marticio
I'm in Iloilo Central Zone (Which means I'm in the City) in Jaro (Remember the Spanish J). It usually smells like a campfire, which can either be a good campfire smell, or a bad one, depending on what trash they're burning. Every house is so different. Some have only one room, some have more, Some are big some are some. They're all very different. So are the people. Some know English, some know a little, and some know none at all. But they're all friendly when you talk to them!
Our house is actually nice (compared to many). Our housemates are Sister Lewis and Marticio. Sister Lewis is American, and Sister Marticio is a Philipina. We have a gas stove, a toaster oven, and a fridge. And it's clean (we just sanitized/cleaned it Saturday, actually). I've yet to see a Cockroach, and there aren't a lot of flies or mosquitoes. I only have 4 mosquito bites, and I haven't gotten any since the second day. Thank you Bug Spray!

Our Bishop is Bishop Garcia and he is great! He's funny, and calls Sister Massé special child, because she's allergic to Wheat, and so when Filipinos make spaghetti for us Amerikanas, she can't have it! Sister Garcia is an amazing cook! And Banana Fritters may be my favorite desert now. He kept saying, "Eat my House Sisters." Sister Lewis wants to be in Motab, so of course I tell her Dad is in Motab. I think she was the one to bring up that fact during dinner with Bishop. Bishop and his wife asked me to sing a song, and I eventually complied. Sister Lewis sang alto with me, and now I'm pretty sure I'm going to be asked to sing a lot. . .
Grabi this is long, but there is still more! I made it to Sunday, (two investigators and a less active came with us!) and Relief Society and Sunday school are in Ilonggo. . Yeah, that was a little hard to follow. But Sacrament Meeting was the Primary Program! It was very cute, and in English. I was asked to bare my testimony . . which was very short and in broken Ilonggo.
We went to Family Home Evening, and by demands, I was asked to sing (This is the start of something). After I sang the First Noel (they start celebrating Christmas in the months that end with -ber) Sister Lewis, Massé, and I sung another Christmas Hymn. Spaghetti for dinner! (it's sweet here. . which is weird, but not bad) 
Family Home Evening
I did Laundry by hand today! Oh it takes forever, and I'll soon be off to buy groceries (Yay budgeting!)
I love it here, so much! And I know that this is where I'm meant to be!
I love you all, and the Gospel is true! 

Love - Sister Smith

04 December 2013


Osmeña Street, Arevalo, 5000 Iloilo City

4 December 2013

Mr. and Mrs. Lance Henry Smith
3632 Teaberry Drive
Taylorsville, UT 84129 United States

Dear Brother and Sister Smith,

            We are Thrilled and happy as we welcome your daughter to the Philippines Iloilo Mission. She is assigned to Jaro 2B in Iloilo Central Zone. Her first companion is Sister Masse', from (Newberg, Oregon, United States) an able and faithful missionary.

            The attached picture was taken at the mission office shortly after she arrived. It will bring joy and reassurance of her safe arrival. We are also sending you her picture with her “batch mates”, who arrived here in Iloilo with her. Just like your daughter, they too have volunteered to serve the Lord.

        Our fondest hope and prayer is that each missionary here will serve with diligence and obedience, will fulfill an honorable mission, and then return home safely with increased faith and determination to serve the Lord. Your regular Inspirational letters to her will be an important part of her experience and will be a source of strength and motivation. This period of selfless service is an exceptional opportunity for your daughter to grow and mature as a child of God.

            Please feel free to write me at any time if you have questions or need information about your daughter. We will extend the kind of love you showered upon her to the best of our capacity. Thank you for entrusting her to the Lord and to us.

With warmest regards,
Mission President

27 November 2013

Letter 5 (Lima): The Last MTC Letter

Hello! So I don't get a Pday this week! (We did our laundry early this morning before breakfast instead) So I'm emailing during TALL (computer language learning time) instead!

So Friday we said goodbye to our coach, Brother Speiser. He left for Thanksgiving, and doesn't return until after we've left! We all really miss him! I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life, due to just one person! Actually. . . our district is just always laughing about something. . . . we're a bit ridiculous. . .
Last day with Brother Speiser
We really miss him
SO WE GOT OUR FLIGHT PLANS! Guess who has a 27 hour layover in LAX? Joke lang, we USED to have a 27 hour layover, now it's only 3 hours. We went to the travel office with the question of, "So what are we supposed to be doing for 27 hours? Do we stay at the airport the entire time? Do we get to go to a hotel for the night?" and they responded by changing our flight plans instead! We leave (our trio, the rest of the district leaves Monday) Sunday afternoon, before Sacrament Meeting, on a Fast Sunday. . . that's going to be fun. . . . Yeah, Indi Maayo. (No good) But I will be in Iloilo on the 4th! (Well. . . it will be the third here. . . ) That's crazy. . . Next letter from me will be from the PHILIPPINES.

So I got that DearElder at the same time as my flight plans, and I knew exactly what is was!! Tell Andrew I totally guessed he would be going to Russia!! (Even if I said so as a joke. . .I TOTALLY CALLED IT) But I was more excited to find out he got his call than I was to get my flight plans. . . . Definitely got my priorities strait.
Elder Gang in my district is a twin. The other Elder Gang is just down the hallway learning Tagalog, and apparently one of our teachers had No Idea that there were two Gangs in the Building. It only took him five weeks to find out, and one embarrassing moment of mistaking one for the other to figure it out.

Even more happened on Friday (it was a day full of stuffs. . .) I got a Package! (That I had to pay for. . . thanks Lynnie. . . Apparently forever stamps only cover so much weight. . .) It's a cute little water bottle from Amberlyn, and it's pretty adorable! Though sometimes I can't take it seriously because it's shaped like a jersey, and Sister Tamang said that it looks like I'm sucking someones brain's out when I'm drinking from it! Hahaha! I Love it though!

Sharly sent me Nutella! I'm really stocking up on all these sweets (because Sister Leifson always gives hers away), luckily I have room in my bags for it!

And thanks for the Package! I literally got it half an hour ago! And I promise I haven't opened the Christmas Presents (even if I have already made a guess as to what they are). I haven't been able to try the shirt on yet, but I love it! And I think it will fit fine! And I love all the pictures! They're wonderful!

Last night I finally got to sing in the MTC choir for Tues. Night Devotional (because last time no one wanted to go with me, and the time before that I was sick. . .) It was super fun, and now Sister Moser goes with me! Michael John U. Teh of the Seventy spoke, and because he's from the Philippines, he asked all those who were going to serve in the Philippines to stand up. Yep, that was an awesome feeling! Because we were in the choir last night, we'll be in the choir for tomorrow morning automatically, and a Senior Apostle (or so the rumor goes. It is for sure an apostle though. President Nalley told the choir that) is going to be speaking! They've told us that the next month is going to be awesome, too bad I leave the First! (Not really.. . . I want that Tropical weather for Christmas!)

Our new Tacloban district got their reassignments today! Two elders (Morgan and Jones) will be joining us in Iloilo! I don't know who else is going where, but there are a few going up north to a Tagalog speaking mission, and a few going to Bacolod instead. 
Some of the New Zone! They're pretty cool!
The language is going really well! Of course it's still hard, and in the field it's going to be even harder, but I can't wait to be immersed in that culture! (even if it means I only get a few more days of a hot shower. . .)

And now I'm sitting here, looking through my journal, trying to think of the things I should write about next, and not sound like I'm rambling too much. . So much happens in a week! So instead I guess I'm just not going to take up my entire hour! (What is this?) and work on some Portal Tasks (Like watch the rest of the Health and Safety video. . Joy!)

Anyway, Palangga ko kamo! Matuod ang Ebanghelyo!

-Sister Smith

21 November 2013

Letter 4 (Apat)

Dearest Panimalay kag mga Abyan!

(Family and Friends!) One more week gone, and so is the entire zone! We said goodbye to the other five districts! We really grew attached to them after 4 weeks, it's going to be hard to say goodbye to my district as they all head to Bacolod in two weeks. . . Yep! It's getting that close! Flight plans come soon! 

Zone's last trip to the temple
SALAMAT PARA SA PACKAGE! I was not expecting all the cheetos! (My district loved them. And I still have more left.) The sweats are nice to have again! It's just too cold to wear shorts to gym!

This week we had TRC (Training Resource Center) where we teach people (generally RMs) and the first time we had TRC we only had one volunteer come for us to teach. Last time we had FOUR. So all four companionships in our district actually got to teach! I love teaching the RMs, it's very spiritual, and I'm definitely going to volunteer here in when I get back! One woman we taught had brought her daughter with her, and she was so funny, "Bringing a baby to the MTC is like bringing Santa. It's like the missionaries peer through the windows in disbelief that it can actually exist!" 

I can't remember if I've told you anything about our investigators. . . so here it goes! We currently have two investigators, Dionefe, and Marieneto. I'm so proud of Marieneto because he's finally reading the Book of Mormon, and that's hard thing to ask Filipinos to do sometimes, because the wording is so deep, they don't really understand it. But he really likes Nefi, and he doesn't like Laman and Lemuel (who does?). Dionefe really just wants to find truth, and so I love teaching her because she's really interested in what we have to say. I probably sound terrible in my very broken Ilonggo, but hey, at least the message comes across, and the Spirit is able to teach better than I ever could! 

Because the zone is gone, new missionaries came in Mon/Tues/Wed. There are four Districts now, 14 Elders, and 12 Sisters. (And when you add our district of 2 Elders and 7 Sisters, our zone officially has more Sisters than Elders!) 18 of those 26 are International missionaries (mostly from New Zealand, Australia, and Various Islands.) Which meant our sister training leaders (S. Moser & Leifson) and Zone Leaders (Our Elders. Big surprise there!) had a fun time trying to get all 18 to the Tuesday Night Devotional. 
Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders
So Monday in our afternoon/evening class an international Elder (Elder Cash) was brought to our room, but he is headed to the Singapore, English speaking mission! The Sister who dropped him off switched him with the other two Elders she had with her at the door! But he stayed for class before the Zone Leaders took him to the international missionaries place (wherever that is) to tell them that he had been taken to the wrong class. He participated in class, and learned a bit of Ilonggo! The poor Elder looked so confused. If he wasn't thankful he's English Speaking before, I'm sure he is now! 

They asked us to host yesterday when they must have realized they needed even more hosts due to the double batch coming in (Yay Thanksgiving!) I hosted 3 Sisters, and I'm pretty sure it was harder to watch these Sisters leave their own families than it was to leave my own. (Not that I don't love you all, but I was ready to get to work!) While we were hosting it started raining! Oh it was so Cold! We stood out there for an extra 10 minutes waiting for the late arrivals, but then none came. Oh well, I just need to get used to being wet, and get used to my glasses getting rain on them all the time!

It was weird being away from my mga kaupod to host new Sisters, but I still had a lot of fun doing it, even though I don't know where any buildings are besides my residence, classroom, cafeteria, and gym! So I had to use the map they gave us, because I still can get lost around here. 

There were about 12 Missionaries at gym last night. It was so empty! Everyone who had gym time with us left! So we had gym time to ourselves, because the new missionaries don't get gym until tomorrow night! I haven't really gained weight here, (I checked!), haha, that's what I get for being the type of person who is used to sitting down all the time, my body is used to this! All the other Sisters in my district who are way more active Hate it! Yep, it's the walking around all the time for the next 16 and a half months is what's going to be harder for me, and easier for them! 

I did see that close-up shot of Dad! I actually was so disappointed that he wasn't in any good group shots or anything, and I was just hoping that by the end there would be one good one for me. And Lo and Behold, the last shot of the men was JUST DAD! I was so happy! Gotta love Music and the Spoken Word! An Elder in our Zone got to see his brother who had been in Tacloban! We were all very happy for him, because they thought they wouldn't have been able to see each other for another two years, and all those things that his brother went through in Tacloban. 

I actually had been wondering if I'd see Uncle Paul here, and that Tuesday morning I had been looking through the give away box (I found an awesome dress, by the way.) and I heard a voice of a woman who sounded just like Aunt Denise! (or is it Denice. I can't remember, I'm a terrible niece.) So I'd been thinking that if I ever saw Paul here, we would just run into each other, and it came to pass that on the way to breakfast, there he was! Haha! I'm so spoiled! My companions get a lot of mail, I get to see my family all the time. I'm definitely the Lucky one! Swerte ako! That day actually ended up just being hard (I don't know why) and Brother Speiser pulled me out for coaching, that man knows exactly when you need to talk to someone! But yeah, seeing Uncle Paul really made the day so much easier! 

Tuesday night devotional was all about "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" Haha, those devotionals are always what I need to hear! Elder Aibikatis (or something like that) of the seventy challenged us to continually strive for the Celestial Kingdom, he read a lot of the D&C revelation about the kingdoms, and pulled it apart in such a way that made it really simple. I loved every minute of it. 

Next week is Thanksgiving!!! (I'm sure you knew this) YAY!!! I've heard that MTC holidays are Awesome, and I can't wait! (Rumor from the Branch President says that we might be watching Ephraim's Rescue! And doing a lot of service projects) HOWEVER, Thanksgiving is on my PDay, So I may not end up having my Pday! It may end up being Wednesday or Friday, I don't know which! So please write Wednesday, just in case! 

I also should be getting my flight plans really soon! I think they come on Saturday. . . . TOO SOON! But I'm definitely ready for warm weather, it is way to cold here!

Kabalo ako nga matu-od ang ebanghelyo! (I know the Gospel is true!) 

Palangga ko kamo! (I love you all!) 

 - Sister Smith
Sun is too bright to take good pictures,
but I like this one

14 November 2013

Letter 3 (Tatlo)

Dearest Panimalay kag mga Abyag!

Halfway through the MTC! Three weeks have gone by so fast.

I love seeing friends in the MTC! Elder Gollaher arrived last Wednesday, and I see him pretty much everyday. (We have the same Meal/Gym schedule) It's funny (to me at least) that Sister Quent and I know all the same missionaries that come in from high school, but we never knew each other.

And YES, I have heard ALL about the typhoon. it's main pathway was across all the districts in my zone. Our Tacloban serving Elders have been relocated to Bacolod, Cebu, and Cebu East, because Leyte (the Tacloban Mission's island) took the worst of the damage from the storm. It's flooded, has the most deaths, and even the mission home was destroyed. Yet all the missionaries are found (there were a few who couldn't get to a phone, and had to walk 40 miles to get to a stake center to contact their mission president.) The Lord does truly protect His missionaries!

This is our Zone's last week at the MTC! They all leave Monday and Tuesday morning! I'm going to miss them all, it won't be the same without them! Our district will be the only district left, so we'll be the ones that know all the ins and outs of the MTC. But yeah, Love the zone! The international missionaries get to have a trip down to the Salt Lake Temple, and it was so QUIET. I really hope the new zone has just as many Islanders as ours does now, or else it is going to be BORING around here. The only reason our district isn't boring is because we have the wonder Sister Kumar to spice things up for us! 

Our tri-panionship has a solo Sister (since Sunday night), and she'll be with us until Tuesday until her own companion (another solo sister) arrives. Sister Reilly is headed to Indonesia! Our schedule is the one most similar to hers, so that's why she's with us for now. (We are the fourth group of sisters she has been with. I think she'll be happy when she finally has a permanent companion.) 

Sister Reilly! (with a photo bombing Elder Ellis)

Remember that flu shot? I guess it doesn't prevent 24 hour bugs! (or maybe I ate something that just really disagreed with me. . .) Here's the Story. So Sunday I felt queasy from the end of breakfast, throughout the entire day. . .. until dinner time before choir, when my stomach decided to rid itself of its contents the fast way. . . in the middle of the cafeteria. I'm so glad I'm not easily embarrassed! Luckily I'd become friends/acquaintances with the elder sitting across from me (thank you ASL), and he didn't freak out because he was an EMT (or something like that). The sister who often conducts the music during devotionals came over to check on me, and sent me off to get cleaned up when I insisted that I felt better than I had all day. Sister Watkins took such good care of me (because we were on splits for choir).
We went to the devotional that night (in which I pretty much closed my eyes and half slept/half listened, sometimes took a few notes through) We went to a filmed MTC devotional of President Ucthdorf, and I loved it, despite the fact I felt absolutely miserable throughout the entire thing. I think I was praying (read: begging) most of the talk that I wouldn't Suka (that's the Ilonggo verb for "to vomit." I'm sure you didn't actually want to know that.) in the middle of the chapel, nowhere near a garbage can. Heavenly Father answers prayers! when we got to the classroom, I just sat on the floor and starred at the wall, because I could not sit in another chair. I must have looked awful, because Elder  Nielsen asked if I wanted a blessing. Normally I would have preferred to fight it off on my own, because I was already over the worst of it, but then I remembered that I am on the Lord's Errand, and he needs me healthy and attentive, so I asked for a blessing. 
I think we forget that these young 18 year old elders have the authority to bless and administer to the sick. What a blessing they are! The Zone Leaders Elder Black and Elder Patane-Reupena gave me the blessing, I am amazed and so thankful to them! After that I went to balay (residence) and went to sleep half an hour early. 

The day after you're sick, you should just carry around a sign that says, "Yes, I'm feeling much better. Thanks for asking." That extra half an hour of sleep didn't count for anything, because I had to get up 45 minutes early for Service! But we got out of service 20 minutes early because we had to take Sister Reilly to class! So when we had another hour before breakfast started, so I took an hour nap. That felt great. I also half slept through personal study at my desk. Yeah, one of the most uncomfortable sleeping places ever, but you know me, I sleep wherever. 

I bought a small sketchbook (5.5x8.5 in) because I really missed mine from home because an Elder was showing me his sketchbook he brought. Now I can sketch that beautiful Panay Scenery! (If I ever get the time on my Pdays). I also had to buy 2 more journals, because the two I brought will definitely not last me the entire 18 months (Yay MTC Bookstore! They pretty much have everything you could ever want/need)

It was so crowded trying to get into Tuesday devotional. There is definitely a reason they don't announce that. He was such a wonderful person to hear from! He updated us all on the situation in the Philippines, and told us a few things that I hadn't known before that. He really emphasized working with your companions, and what a blessing it is to have them. I wish I could say that L. Tom Perry was the highlight of my week (and his talk was great! I was exactly what I needed to hear!) but obviously being sick and receiving a priesthood blessing is what really stood out! Hahaha! Sister Hampson (headed to Cebu) and Sister Watkins also got sick, so hopefully no one else gets it, because it was definitely not fun. 

Fun story Nanay! Remember the Elder and his parents we met in the Temple? Well, he gave the invocation for the Tuesday devotional! I finally learned his name (Elder Alonzo), and I realized I do see him around, because he's in the same building as me for class! Haha, I actually missed his name at the devotional, and the next day while waiting for my kaupod outside the CR (Restroom) I was talking to a Sister headed to Bagio, and she was able to tell me his name. Mystery Solved! 

Sister Quent told me her favorite riddle, and when I really sat down to think about it and ask yes/no questions, it only took me about 30/45 minutes. I say Only because it took Elder Archibald 4 days. I now have an arsenal of riddles for when I get home! 

The word for yes is O-o in Ilonggo (literally two Oh sounds with a glottal stop in the middle) after saying it for three weeks, I forget that it sounds like NO to everyone else! haha, I hope you all  can understand me when I get home!

Wanna hear an Ilonggo/English joke? To understand you have to know that the Ilonggo words for Water and Salt are Tubig (Too Beeg) and Asin (ah seen). 

"Why can't Salt Water get into heaven?"

"Because it's Tubig asin!" (too big a sin.)

I think it's hilarious. I also think that Brother Speiser, who told us the joke is hilarious, so that might be it. Or maybe because Sister Quent and Brother Hong didn't get it for five minutes, which was really funny too. . .

Home sounds like it's crazy, and the Philippines is full of crazy right now. Yep, it's good to be at the MTC.

Love, Sister Smith

07 November 2013

Letter 2 (Duha)

Dearest Nanay Kag Amigos,

There is a saying here at the MTC, "The days go by slow and the weeks go by fast!" It certainly is true! I can't believe it's been two weeks! the days really start to blend together, and I've already forgotten things I've said in my past letter. . .  I forget a lot of things now, there is way too much information running around in my brain. Good thing I keep a journal every night now, it makes this much easier!

Alright, so the Second half of P-day (Thursday)
We went to the temple, but we didn't want to do a session because we have the last temple time, and when the session is over, so is PDay. So we did initiatories (because we still had things to do after.) First time for me, it was really fun!

We got ready to teach Cherry Mae (our investigator) and as we headed to our classroom we saw Brother Hong walking down the hallway in street clothes. It was the weirdest thing. Kind of like seeing your seminary teacher in jeans. . . Apparently Cherry Mae couldn't make it so he would be role-playing as her brother. Lesson Plans = Thrown out the window.
I'm pretty sure S. Jenkins, S. Quent, and S. Leifson's families are trying to fatten us up before we head off to a Third World Country (3 dozen doughnuts and countless candies later). We've given up on trying to eat it all ourselves, and we just give it away to the rest of the zone.
Friday: We're no longer teaching Cherry Mae, instead we now have two investigators: Marieneto and Dionefe (Jo nah fay). We also have another Maestro (Teacher)! Sister Tamang teaches in the afternoon, Brother Hong teaches in the Morning. She's a lot harder to understand than Bro. Hong for a couple of reasons. 1: She talks WAY faster than we're use to, and 2: she doesn't use as much English. But that's a good thing (at least that's what I have to tell myself). She also teaches at the time of day when my brain decides to turn off; I try to not stare blankly, but sometimes it just doesn't work.

We also had a hard time getting through prayers on Friday. S. Watkins started "Langitnon nga Amay" (Heavenly Father) rather than the "Amay namon sa Langit" (Our Father In Heaven) we're all used to hearing. And since none of us were expecting it, (and it didn't click/translate what she said in our minds) we all peeked at one another giving each other the "What was that" look. We all had to hold in our laughter, for the rest of the prayer. Then later I stared with "Nagapasalamat. . . wait . . . no, that's wrong." I totally skipped the addressing, and no one would have even noticed if I hadn't stopped and corrected myself.

So that night we accidentally locked ourselves our of our room. . . Whoops! We hand to go all the way to the Main Building (S Jenkins and Me, because S Quent was already in the shower. . . Emergency Splits!) But we first had to get a group of elders to let us in 1M because we didn't have our ID cards. They actually spoke to us first, "Will you let us testify to you in a language that you don't know and won't understand?" so after they gave their testimonies in Korean, they opened the door for us. Of course on the way to the information desk we pass E. Hirst, who give me this "What is wrong with you? what are you doing?' look. I should probably mention that I was in my bright yellow PJ shirt, blue capris, flip flops, and no name tag, while Sis. Jenkins still hadn't changed and therefor looked as perfect as ever. So yeah, we must have looked really interesting. After we got the spare key, we had to have a security guard escort us back to our room, because we still didn't have IDs to let us in our residence building. That was an adventure, hopefully it never happens again. . .
Saturday: Some how we got into telling riddles with the Zone. . .they're actually super fun, and I had one that really stumped the Elders, but they got back at S. Quent and me by telling us one that drove us nuts. Elder Jacobs even gave us a hint "the Answer is in the Silence" but that just made us go "Well now we're going to die." Because we're both Whovians, so that hint wasn't helpful at all. But now I have a good arsenal of riddles, hopefully I don't forget them all.
Part of my crazy Zone.
Sunday: To Answer your question, Mom, I still hate the snow, but I did love seeing the Elders in our zone (Our zone is full of Australians, New Zealanders, Islanders/Polynesians and S. Kumar from Fiji) enjoy their fist snow. So while I hate that it's cold enough for rain to freeze, I loved watching those having their first "Magical First Snow." Unfortunately I didn't have my camera on me to take pictures of their antics.
If you've seen any of the "Life of Christ" Videos they're really fun to watch because S. Watkins is in some of them as an extra! I love hearing back stage stories from her. Like the actor who plays Christ is actually a redhead in real life. (he's the redhead in Baptists at our Barbecue)
It was great getting an extra hour of sleep (thank you daylights savings time! Our Teachers, both of them, had no idea, aren't they lucky that we told them that Saturday?) I've never had such a great Fast Sunday! The Mission Conference was great, David T. Seamons (A District President) and his wife spoke. Along with Diane and James L Hacking (1st Counselor in the MTC Presidency) and Kaye and Lou B. Nally (President of the MTC).
Afterward we had a District Discussion, which my companionship was in charge of. Luckily everyone was willing to discuss and share experiences! We didn't' have much to worry about. Steve and Nance Kohlert (Previous MTC President and Wife) spoke at the Sunday Night Devotional. Basically the message was "Relax, and do your best!" We went to the video "The Gift of Teaching" by Elder Holland, it's pretty much a super old training video (Like, really old.) but it was still really helpful.
Monday: We do service at 6:05 in the morning (goodbye extra sleep) in the Main Building. This we week vacuumed the Large Chapels (Well. . . We finished 2 of them, and only started the last one.)  The vacuums were the kind that you strap to your back, so the entire time my mind kept replaying,
"Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!"
So all those Mondays working with Bro. Grunvig have finally paid off! While everyone else was confused about Verb Conjugations, Sentence Focusing, and developing headaches, I already understood or knew most everything! (Muwahahaha!)
I've given up on jogging all of gym time. I think I get a better work out from laughing while playing Volleyball, than I ever could doing sit-ups. Playing Volleyball with some 6' Islander Elders is WAY different than playing with Beehives and Mia Maids who are still slightly frightened by the ball. But we don't play by the rules, and it's just a bunch of chaos (organized chaos). Sister Warner calls it the "Island of Misfit Volleyball Players" I think it's an accurate description.
Tuesday: We started a Q&A Spot light in the district. We've questioned S.Watkins, Kumar, and the Elders so far. It's really fun getting to know each other even more (we're always talking about anything and everything, but it's still fun.) The Tuesday devotional was Wonderful! Jane and Elder Craig Zwich of the Seventy spoke. He spoke on how obedience brings blessings and safety, while disobedience brings spiritual and temporal pain. He also mentioned that L. Tom Perry will be speaking next week! I'm pretty sure he wasn't supposed to tell us that. The Elders in the row behind me were so disappointed, they leave Monday. . . but they said they saw another general authority their first week, so they weren't too bitter about it.
Wednesday: My brain decided to turn off again before dinner, we were roleplaying teaching in "Ilonggish" (as S. Tamang likes to call it) and I pretty much couldn't even teach in English. I was teaching Bro. Spieser because Mga Kaupod mo were teaching each other. I think he was just as tired as I was (that time between 4:30 and 6 is just killer. . . . )
There is an Elder in our Zone with the some of the longest fingernails. I think the crowing moment of yesterday was when he let S. Leifson cut them. (yeah. . . entertainment is kinda short here. . .)
I love you! The Gospel is True, and the MTC is awesome!
Love- Sister Smith.
Haha, funny story I forgot to type up.
So Smith is the best last name to have in the MTC because there are a million of you (well. . . I guess that is an exaggeration.) But I think I had 3 Elder Smiths come up to me and go "Hello Sister Smith!" in one day and I've said that to at least Five different Sisters. . . . Yeah, none of us are related.
Also, we met two elders headed to the West Salt Lake City Mission! Small world! Both Sister Quent and I were disappointed they weren't headed to the South mission, but that's ok. . .
The Elders that continually enter our classroom apparently it's cooler than theirs or something.

Some Salt Lake Jordan Stake Missionaries! (and a companion)