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