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
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 boys...it's hilarious. They sometimes act
like it too. Haha but it is good because they help keep things light when
it seems really difficult.
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
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!
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 campus...it 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
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