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)