Monday, December 23, 2013

First P-day

Holding onto Haley before she goes into the MTC.


Well, I have made it to the fourth day here at the MTC!!  I LOVE it!!  I sent you a written letter on Thursday.  Have you gotten it?  After you dropped me off at the MTC, a really nice sister took me to check me in, get my name tag, drop off my luggage, and go straight to class.  When I checked in, I looked down to see the name of my companion and knew immediately that she was not from the United States.  Her name is Sister Tebatunga Temwaaka.  You pronounce her last name Tem-a-ka (the 'w' is silent).  She is from Kiribati (pronounced Kiribes).  It consists of some tiny islands way off in the Pacific ocean.  There are a lot of Kiribati sisters here called to serve in the Philippines.  She is always so happy and loving, and from the first second we were together she was always serving me in any way that she can.  She is a huge example to me and I already love her so much.  She can hardly speak any English, which makes things more difficult, but we have definitely connected and I just love her.  She was baptized two years ago!!  Although we can't communicate much, it is obvious that she has a strong testimony.  The first day in class, my teacher only spoke in Tagalog and I was very overwhelmed.  In fact our teachers only speak in Tagalog unless we are having a 1-on-1 interview or something like that.  I thought, "How in the world am I ever going to learn this language?"  Then we went to a big fireside with all of the new missionaries (800 of them) and it made everything really exciting.  There were missionaries from all over the world there and it was powerful to know we were all there for the same purpose and going through the same struggles.  They emphasized the the Lord qualifies those that He calls to the work, so we must not fear but just have faith.  Because with God we can achieve anything.  So with that, my fears were calmed and I was just excited to start working hard.
  We then went to dinner at the cafeteria...the food is not very good...but that's ok haha because maybe it just means that I won't over eat.  They have a lot of options like turkey and potatoes, wraps, hamburgers, sandwiches, etc.  But it is not that great.  I wish they had more salad and vegetable options, but that's alright because I hear that the fruits and vegetables in the Philippines are delicious!
  The rest of the day we just unpacked, studied, and wrote in our journals.  Sister Temwaaka has told me that her parents passed away and she comes from very humble circumstances.  So she is a great example to me.  She is perfect to be my companion because she always sings the vocabulary and phrases to help us remember - which is something I normally do - and sometimes we just burst out laughing because we both have no clue what's going on.  I love laughing with her.
  The next day, we had more class and study time.  We were supposed to prepare a lesson for our investigator Ton Ton.  That was nuts.  We were supposed to prepare a lesson to teach him in Tagalog on Friday.  The language barrier with my companion and me makes this difficult.  But we did our best to prepare.  In my district there are 6 sisters (including us) and only 2 elders.  Both my companion and me are 21, Sister Johnson and Sister Ramsey (the two that I room with are 19 and 22 respectively), and the other two sisters are 21 and 24.  It is surprising to me how old all of the sisters are!  The two elders are both 18, Elder Wooden and Elder Williamson.  They seem like little's hilarious.  They sometimes act like it too.  Haha but it is good because they help keep things light when it seems really difficult.
  Yesterday we had class, and more preparation time to teach Ton Ton.  My companion and me tried our best to prepare but when we went in we both had hardly any idea what was going on.  We started with our lesson, but then asked him a question about the scripture we read (and this whole time he can only speak in Tagalog) and we went off on a question that we had no idea how to answer.  He was asking about faith (Pananampaleteya, my favorite word to say so far) and my companion and me kept trying to explain to me but we just had no words.  It was all over the place, but we will just keep working and hopefully continue improving our lessons.
  Not only is there a language barrier between my companion and me but a cultural barrier as well.  Taylor had made me that candy poster, so every night I would share my candy with my companion and she would always accept and seem like she liked it.  But then, I found out later that in her culture it is considered rude if someone offers you something, like food, and you don't accept it.  She doesn't really like really sweet food.  And so I told her that from now on it was ok for her to say no!  I felt bad making her eat it every night!  At lunch, her favorite thing to drink is a glas 3/4 full of water and 1/4 full of orange soda (because the orange soda is too sweet by itself).  In the morning she eats egg and sausage, for lunch and dinner rice and some kind of meat.  I have been trying to get her to eat some fruits and vegetables but she refuses.  It is so funny.
  Every time I take pictures with her and she always has a serious face.  I tried to get her to smile and she REFUSED.  I snuck one while she was laughing (because normally she is always smiling and laughing) but she got mad at me.  I apologized and she laughed about it but, from now on I will just let her do what she wants in the pics.  I just wish you could all see her beautiful smile.
  Today, is our P-day and it has been pretty relaxing.  We wake up at 6:30 every day, eat breakfast, and then today we had personal study for a little bit, went to the book store to get some things, and now we are writing our e-mails as we wait for our clothes to wash.
  I have been surprised how much personal study time there is.  I thought there would be a much more explicit schedule, so it has been good to learn how to make good use of my time and prioritize the things that I need to study.
  We have only been to the gym once and it was so much fun!  They have a big gym where missionaries can play volleyball and basketball.  And then upstairs they have a track and different exercise machines.  It is nice because once you're in the building your companion and you can exercise however you want so my companion is an amazing volleyball player and went to play while I ran.  They also have exercise classes from 6-6:30 every morning for the sister so I want to go next week.  They have aerobics, kick boxing, yoga, etc.  It sounds really fun so I want to try it out!
  Unfortunately, we are not allowed to e-mail friends, only write letters.  But thank you so much for the DearElder's!! It always brightens your day to receive letters/notes.  Sometimes it feels like I am just at this separate island completely separated from the world so it is nice to know that people are remembering me out there.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!! 
  I love it here so much.  I love my branch, and my branch presidency.  They are so so nice and just love missionary work.  My President's wife emphasized that the very best education you can get is not on any university is on your mission.  I am so grateful for this opportunity and I want to make the most of every second.  It is only my fourth day, so I am sure that next week I will have a lot more to share.
  I love you all and you're in my prayers every morning and night.  I hope everything is going well and you are looking forward to a merry Christmas.  Although I can't talk to you on the phone on Christmas, I will be able to write you!  I miss you but I love it here and I know that this is the right decision.  Our branch motto is "Obedience brings blessings but exact obedience brings miracles."  I love it and I need miracles to learn this language so I am trying to be obedient as I can.  I love everyone here and although it is difficult the spirit is so so strong.  I just feel peaceful all the time - everything is going to work out.  This place is consecrated, just like the temple.  And you can feel it.  Have a great week and I will write you on Wednesday and every Saturday.
This church is true.  I love you!!!!
Love, Sister Rasmussen
P.S.  I am sorry if this is scattered or doesn't make much sense.  I don't have long to write, let alone proof read.  Love you all!!

I go to bed at 10:30 and wake up at 6:30.  In the morning it hurts my eyes to wake up but I feel refreshed the whole day.
I hope that I have answered all of your questions.  I hope you are not missing me too much because I love you and our family and me are receiving blessings for this decision.  I am working hard.


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