29 December 2014

Letter 61: It's just One of Those Letters

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was a good one in San Jose. I'm afraid that due to our Christmas skype I'm like Mom. . and I have nothing really to write about. So this is just one of those really short letters. and I don't even have a USB port to upload pictures. Sigh. And I had some good pics to send home!

umm... So I guess some updates are that the Traveling APs came by. So we got to work with my old District Leader. He was happy to be back in Antique (He missed Karay-a). It was a bit interesting because we were in a Trio working both areas (Sister Haun went to Iloilo to the Doctor.)

So some cool Christmas Miracles have happened over here!

1. Rene: He's a part member that comes to church. . .but doesn't really have much desire. BUT YESTERDAY he told Sister Crisanto he wants to get baptized in January. So that was cool. The other missionaries in the Branch have baptisms planned for the 24th. So we were like, "How about the 24th?" he said OK. But then after the lesson he asked if it could be sooner. So looks like we're now going for the 10th.

2. Loren. She's the granddaughter of a member, who, like Rene, is active in the Church but not active in Desire. But she's made a New Year's Resolution to change her attitude. And she's decided the best way to do that is to be baptized. 

3. Roena and Loni. Two Less-actives that came for the first time in a while now. There is a lot of Less-Active work around here, which is really enjoyable when they actually start returning. :)

So.. .. . .

Yeah. That's it. 

I'm good. Life is good. The New year is in. . . 3 days. Crazy!

So the Church is true. 
Love you all, 
Sister Smith

22 December 2014

Letter 60: J Must be My Destiny?

Mayad nga Aga! 

That means "Good Morning" in Kiniray-a. So Big News: "TRANSFERED" 

So where have I ended up this transfer? Well, a PumpBoat, Jeepney, and a Ceres Bus ride later, and I have ended up in the Province of Antique in San Jose de Buenavista. My third (and hopefully my last) Area. 
Leaving Guimaras
Explanation of the title of this letter? Jaro, Jordan, and San Jose. I'm destined to go to places with a Spanish J. I guess I'm supposed to sound really weird when I get home, by the way. Because I say things like Herusalem and Hordan now. 

So my new companion is Sister Crisanto. She's actually Sister Haun's (my companion from Guimaras) Granddaughter. Which makes her my 2nd cousin once removed? something like that. She's 4.5 months or so into the mission. She's super sweet and we're fairly similar in temperament and humor. 
Sister Crisanto and Sister Smith
My housemates are Sister Haun and Sister Fantone (one of the funniest Sisters Ever). This next transfer is going to be FUNNY :D
Christmas Party! and New Housemates:
Sisters Haun, Crisanto, and Fantone
Also, my house here is the NICEST house EVER. It's SO NICE. We have an OVEN, a separate shower and CR. and a CAN OPENER. It's also just recently built (missionaries moved in 4 weeks ago), so it's just super clean, (nice things here just aren't as nice a few years later. . . ) and it's just the best thing ever. The Zone Leaders also live just next door! 

I actually kinda had some culture shock. There is literally nothing in Guimaras, and there is just SO MUCH here. Like, I was so happy to have a Can Opener. a CAN OPENER. What's going to be my reaction to things back home??

More culture shock: I will never do my laundry by hand ever again because the Sessions (the beloved couple missionaries) are kind enough to let us use their washer and drier. 
How does one use this??
I was super happy on Saturday. I thought I would miss a Christmas Party, but San Jose Branch's was Saturday (just like Jordan's)! The branch here is so FUN. And. There. Are. DEAF. MEMBERS. I love them, they are sooo funny. And they love me, (hahaha) because they don't have to start from the beginning to teach me ASL! They say the way I sign is funny, and all the time it's "In America, you sign this way. But This is the PHILIPPINES. So we sign it this way." It's pretty much the same, but of course there are differences. They are all very patient with me with my constant spelling, and are very good teachers. They teach ASL with a hearing member on Wednesday, and I'm excited to go :) 

Speaking of languages. Here in Antique they speak Kiniray-a (also known as Karay-a. not sure what the difference is) it's very similar to Ilonggo. 

Like. . . if you say it in Ilonggo and then in Karay-a
To me: "Sa akon." is "Kanakon." 
Now: Subong" is  "Kadya" 
Good Morning: "Maayong aga" is "Mayad nga aga"
Here: "Diri" is "Dya"

and a lot of Ls are now Rs. 

Nothing: "Wala" to "Wara" 
To Sleep: "Tulog" to "Turog" 

It's very pretty and I'm getting quite good at rolling my tongue. 

and just things like that. Mostly it's the pronouns that have changed. Really the hardest part is figuring out what language Sister Crisanto is speaking. She came from Kalibo (where they speak Aklanon and Tagalog) and has only been Karay-a for a transfer. Soo... needless to say she's very mixed. (or as I would say: Halo-halo.)

I miss Guimaras. . The Tacdoro Family and the red roads and being in the Mountains. But I'm loving being on the beach and having the views of mountains instead. I'll find out if Edmar, Alma, and Albert really got baptized in a few weeks when Sister Haun brings news back from MLC from Sister Glori. 
Last Night with my Family in Guimaras!
We gave them a small bit of Christmas :)
I thought my last area would be in the city (and after 7 months in the city, I wasn't too keen on going back) but I've ended up in an area that's half city half beach. :D Basically, I'm just super happy and doing great. :) 

By the way. I should be on around 8 am my time on the 26th so that will be around 5pm for you on Christmas. We'll be going on splits (Sister Fantone and Sister Crisanto will call together. and Sister Haun and I will call together) the pinays call on Christmas day, and we call the day after, so that it gets to you on Christmas. Soooooo... Sister Haun get's double time to talk with her family because her parents separated (special permission from President) so. . . that means we get DOUBLE time together this Christmas. I don't know how we're going to talk so long. 

I hope you're all having a wonderful Christmas. I know that this time to remember Christ's birth should just really be year round. He has completed His atonement, and we can once again live with our Father in Heaven and our Families through Him. I've already seen so much Faith in Jesus Christ here, in one investigator, Hernie, who asked for a priesthood blessing before going to Iloilo for a surgery yesterday.

I love you all,
All's well in San Jose, 

and have a Merry CHRISTmas!

Much love, 
Sister Smith 
My New Apo (Granddaughter).
I'm afraid I've forgotten her name.

Remember how I got a new Umbrella?

I figured I should finally take a selfie
from the land of selfies. 
ps. sorry for all the pictures ;)

15 December 2014

Letter 59: It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

Happy Monday Family and Friends, 

(but for most of you. . .it's still Sunday!) 

Another week has come and by here on Guimaras. It went by really fast because on Wednesday were told something very interesting by President Aquino, "Today, do not think about missionary work!" and thus entered in the CHRISTMAS PARTY. It was mostly a trunkie for all the missionaries going home tomorrow. hahaha. But it was way fun. 
Sisters Aquino, Quent, Smith, kag Scicluna
It started out with each Zone with a play/skit/presentation. It was pretty great (The all Elders district from Kalibo totally won. they were absolutely hilarious) We put on "Elder Krueger's Christmas" our ZL was a disobedient missionary, visited by his "dead companion" and they visited Companion Past, Present, and Future. (by Future meaning Future Eternal companion.) the idea being, "The harder and more diligent you are on your mission, the cuter your future eternal companion" Thus, our Sabad (bad) elder had to change his ways, because his Future EC was not cute. 

My favorite part was when they visited the past and we found out why our mean Elder was mean: The Dear John. We used the name of an Elder who used to be Krueger's comp (Elder Rios) Pulled a "Best two years," type of deal. The best part was Elder Rios's reaction, because we didn't inform him. hahaha. 
His reaction  (Far Right)
Played games, Sung 12 Days of Christmas, had a Gift Exchange (got a cute little souvenir. a little house and stuff in a glass Cheez wiz jar. haha) Ate dinner (did not touch the blood pudding.) Some Missionaries sang, and then we watched the David Archuleta Music and the Spoken Word. (SAW DAD FIVE TIMES.) Sister Quent and I were like, "*sigh* Way better live!" The office elders played with glowsticks and fire for us. 

Slept over at the Sister's apartment in Oton, and then went home exhausted. Hahaha. Too much fun. :) :)

After that. . Went back to work! 

Edmar agreed to be baptized on the 25th (WHITE CHRISTMAS) even if Nanay and everyone else has to wait till January. I loved it, Nanay was like, "do it! You be the example!" and a few seconds later she finally said, 'Ok." with a smile on her face. 

Seriously. LOVE that family. They Came to church even though it rained (that's 2 weeks in a row. WOAH.) and Edmar caught the chicken pox.  Seriously. I love this family so much! I'm going to do my best to come back to this place :) 

Lost a dear friend of over a year this week. Payong. (aka. Umbrella) hahaha. fixed it with staples and ducttape over the past 3 months. . but it just finally died. Over 1 year later (that is so IMPRESSIVE. umbrella's last, like. . .3 to 6 months here) I bought a new one, it's one made specifically for keeping out the SUN. forgot to take a picture. It's really girly, I almost can't believe I bought it really. . .
Payong Ko
Remember how I talked about how strong Alma is and therefore trials will be coming?? Yep. they've been coming. It just stresses Sister Glori and I out. AS IN. Goodness. But let's ignore that and move onto happier things. 

Like a picture of a service project! Loving the Yellow Mormon Helping Hands Vests :)
Anyway. I love you all, 
The church is the MOST true thing you'll ever encounter here on the Earth. 
Christmas is almost here :)

Can I say again how much I love you all for your support? Love Love Love you all. (but not you Elders that read this. haha. I just appreciate your friendship. haha)

Sister Smith

08 December 2014

Letter 58: Don't Worry, I'm Totally Fine

Maayong Aga sa akon Panimalay kag mga Abyan, 

First things first, I did in fact survive my first Super Typhoon (I've been through over 20 or so normal just rainy typhoons, but it's the windy super typhoons. . .those are the ones that make international news) 

We got a call from the ZLs on Wednesday (during exchanges with my favorite Australian! Sister Scicluna) And were told to "Be Prepared" have enough drinking water for a week, have enough water stocked up for taking showers if our running water doesn't work for a few days, have completed 72 hour kits and everything. Because this New Super Typhoon was supposed to be faster than Yolanda was last year, and was supposed to go over the exact same path or just hit Japan instead. And if it was too hit us, it would hit on Sunday, or maybe Saturday. (According to the area presidency)

It's interesting all the different information that goes out. We were told "it's coming tomorrow, on Thursday" by people listening to the Radio. Others said, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, maybe even Monday. But the most interesting thing I really learned about people this week is how they react to such news. For me, it felt like there was something kinda evil in the air, a feeling that's really hard to explain. . that feeling you get when you know something bad is gonna happen, bala? Anyway, you could tell some where feeling that too. But then there were others, who were treating everything so lightly, like it wouldn't be a problem at all. 

By the way, Guimaras is small island, but it's Mountainous, so normally, if there are windy typhoons, Guimaras isn't that affected because of the mountainous terrain and it doesn't really even flood either. So last year, when Estancia (a place in Northern Iloilo) was completely destroyed by Yolanda, Guimaras was left fairly unharmed. 

So Thursday, nothing happened. Same with Friday. Then we were told it could possibly come Saturday around 6. Never did. We were told to be home by 5 or 6 (before dark) on Sunday. 

But the Baguio never came. Some rain did, but not a lot.

Currently (according to my companion's sister) it's up on Luzon. Down here, it's just cloudy. The Sun peaks through the grey every once in a while too, and some rain comes down every once in a while too.  

It seems rather anti-climatic, (So I didn't really actually experience a super typhoon. go figure.) but I've learned a few things. 

1) You can't trust all information. Just like Prophets, there are false prophets, and then there are 15 true blue, called of God, Set Apart as Prophets Seers and Revelators, holding the Priesthood authority and keys, and they make up the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. They are the ones who say what Christ and Heavenly Father want said. I sustain them and know them to be called of God. They are the ones we should listen too when information is distorted. I didn't listen to any of the news from people on the streets. The Area Presidency was right. The storm came on Sunday, like they said it would. (even if it went more north than expected)

2) Always Be Prepared. Even though the Baguio (storm) didn't actually come, I'm thankful we were prepared. Imagine what would have happened if we hadn't! That's one of the   things that makes me sad, is this week I saw people who didn't listen to council, who just brushed it off as another calamity that wouldn't affect us because we're on "Guimaras." It makes me sad, because in this time, before the Coming of Christ, these storms will continue, and then one day, the people of Guimaras won't be so lucky. 

But despite the bad weather, Nanay Emma came to church! She's overcoming the things that keep her from church. Over the past few months, I've really seen their family change. Sister Scicluna mentioned it when she visited them with me during exchanges, she noticed that their house almost feels like the house of a member. It's the house of a family starting to keep the commandments of God, and can tell something is changing for the better there. Nanay wants to read so bad, but her youngest daughter broke her reading glasses forever ago. I've been watching the Pharmacy for months, waiting for their cheap pairs of reading glasses (for a buck fifty) to come in. They finally did I got her some for an early Christmas present. I probably won't be here when they get baptized. (transfers are the 18th by the way) But I'm so glad I've been able to teach them. :) They've become my Family here on Guimaras <3

I love you all, 
Have a great week, 

Sister Smith 
Lovely view from outside our front gate
How do you get a kid to stop crying? take pictures of him, he'll pose for you!
The Guimaras Zone!
Ps. hit 1 year in the Philippines on Wednesday! how cool is that?

01 December 2014

Letter 57: Thanksgiving in the Philippines

Dearest Family and Friends, 

I must say, I have a lot of things to be thankful for :D especially the 3 other Americans that only live the room over or a 3 minute tricycle drive away. Because we all got together and celebrated Thanksgiving :D
The Pinay and the Australian,
and they're first American Thanksgiving
Of course our Turkey was Chicken, and the stuffing was a little burnt, and the gravy was sausage gravy (which is supposed to go on Biscuits for Biscuits and Gravy for Breakfast) BUT There were mashed potatoes and APPLE PIE (because the Elders live in the Couple's house, and they have an OVEN.) and Hypocritical eggs(they would be deviled eggs, but the paprika, which is what makes deviled eggs look devilish, was on the inside. so it was hidden and hypocritical. haha) it was a good day :) While it rained. :) (literally like. . all day it just steadily rained. Signal One Typhoon and we still go outside.)
Mashed Potatoes and Hypocritical Eggs.
Things are going well :) Alma came to church a second time in row :D and she didn't even have money for Sud-an (stuff that goes on top of rice), but she came to church anyway. She also asked for a priesthood blessing from our Branch President to overcome her Smoking Addiction and to help her health problems. We asked the member that lives just around the corner to accompany us last night to her lesson, and goodness, she is such a good fellow shipper! Right now things are going so well with her. That means trials are ahead (of course) But it's so good to see someone who is already strong. and when trials come, Christ will be there to support.

Nanay Emma committed to pay Tithing immediately. Talk About FAITH. 

Now just to get her to church. *sigh* 

Got a text Saturday Night around 9 (didnt' read it until 10) "Hey Sis Smith, ths is Anthy cn u tlk tmrrow for 5th snday? kthnx." 

My reaction was "Grrr" because I talked last time, so it should have been Anyone but me. . .but I was grateful for it. Basically it was "Do Your Home and Visiting Teaching. Less-Active members don't need Missionary friends. They need Member Friends." talked for a good 15 minutes too. (longest sacrament meeting talk I've ever given in my life. whoa.) Sister Glori says that I chastise people too nicely, and that it defeats the purpose. hahaha. But at least I wasn't Elder Walmer, who never received the text and got 25 minutes of prep time (sacrament time and my talk time. haha)

Ano pa?? (what else) umm.. indi ko sure kon ano dapat sulaton ko subong, . . basi magilonggo lang ako tungod kasadya siya. . . hmm..  (umm.. I'm not sure what I should write right now. . . maybe I'll just ilonggo because it's fun. . . .) 

um... Missionary culture note? Sister Quent and I realized that there hasn't been a new American Sister in this mission since we got here. So in April, there won't be anymore left! 

umm... Zone meeting is tomorrow. But there isn't any MLC this month because the Christmas party is next week. sooo.. we get to make up our Trainings all by ourselves! wahoo. yah. whoopdeedoo. 

Love you all,
The Gospel's true.

Sister Smith
Early Christmas from the Relief Society! Thank you!
Baby looking Cool :D