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

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