|(Good Noon from Calapan Mindoro! Paradise! I'm really lucky ...)|
|Cooking in the back|
Family! How are all of you? I miss you tons. I have been getting lots of questions about my new area and companion and things so here I go.... (cue big breath)
Yon! So, my new companion, Sister Tafiti, is so beautiful and an AMAZING companion. I love her so much. And I am so blessed and lucky to be serving with her and I have already learned so much from her. She grew up in New Zealand, in the church, and she is 100% Samoan. She is super fun and we laugh all the time. I feel like I am with my best friend. She comes from a family of 10 kids and her parents seem like rocks.
Alongside Tagalog, I have been learning some new New Zealand slang:
Skuk - which is like a stud or a cute guy
Shout me - example: are you going to shout us some
mackers, which means are you going to pay for us at McDonalds? Haha so basically treating someone.
Keen- example: are you keen for a feed? Which means do you want to go get some food?
Boot - trunk of a car
Dosh - money... haha lots.
I thought that Beau would like to learn some of those and implement them in his vocabulary. Haha by the way that picture of his hair is outrageous. He is killing it with the long na long hair.
My new apartment is really small. There are four rooms: The kitchen/living room/study area, the bathroom, and two bedrooms. It is so small that all four of us sisters have our desks in the same room and all study there.
The stove and the laundry washing area is in the back and it's pretty small. The good news is that I don't have to burn my garbage anymore:) As far as the bathroom goes... it's definitely not like my last apartment. It's much more like the rest of the bathrooms here in the Philippines, a concrete room with a toilet, a spicket for water and a bucket. For showers we fill up the bucket and use a little scooper to pour the water over us. To flush the toilet, we fill up the bucket and pour it in the toilet. Haha but to be honest I don't mind it at all. It's the way all the Philippinos do it here. Probably the only difference is that our apartment is supplied with toilet paper... and I'm sure you can guess how Philippinos normally take care of their business. No toilet paper.
So I am here on an island: Mindoro. The island itself is a zone and we are the only 4 sisters in the zone (which means I am one of the chosen ones). It has a much different dynamic than my last zone which was 50/50 sisters and elders... or maybe even more sisters. The food is the same and everyone in the Philippines always travels by trike and jeepney. But maybe we do a little more walking here.
There is a new thing I have tried here though... they're soooo delicious. These homemade donuts with ubay (some sort of bright purple fruit) inside. It is walking-distance from our apartment and is only 7 pesos.. so yeah. Another thing that I have learned from the sisters here is to buy yogurt, pineapple chunks, and chocolate milk and eat it frozen. It is pretty healthy and a good substitute to ice cream or something. Masarap! My companion and I have been cooking lunch together every day which is fun and yesterday we made those cookies from the package you sent the other day. We don't have ovens but we do have these tiny little toaster oven things that we were able to make them. Haha they weren't THE BEST haha but I hadn't had chocolate chip cookies in so long.. they were good.
The new branch is great. Now that I am here... I realize how mahirap it was in my old ward. I mean everyone here fulfills their callings, President Asis works right by the red handbook, we have a ward mission leader AND ward missionaries. It's awesome and I love this ward so much. In the Philippines you are always working with less actives... that is just the way here. But this week was great. We got 13 new investigators and we have 14 solid baptismal dates. We are really excited. Sister Tafiti said that this area has been struggling but that when we became companions she has seen how the work is really starting to progress. We're both learning a lot from one another.
It's actually kind of weird to me because although I am on an island, the area that I am serving in, Calapan, is a pretty big city. Which means something else... lots of mice and rats. My worst fear. The other day we were in the middle of a lesson and I was trying so hard not to get distracted by all the mice running around in the kitchen next to us. Then I was baring my testimony and totally spazzed out - I screamed and threw up my feet because I thought there was a mouse next to my foot. Haha there was nothing, but the lady we were teaching could not stop laughing. I don't know if I will ever get over that fear. Haha it's Sister Tafiti's worst fear too and I guess there was a big fat rat in our apartment before. That better terrible but they were just such hip jams for this woman. Anyway... I am working on it. Haha in another lesson this week, we thought we were contacting a referral named Lynn. So the ENTIRE TIME we were just calling her Lynn.. over and over. Well at the very end she told us that her name was Febby. Hahah Lynn was her next door neighbor. We were so embarrassed. But the thing is, her and her husband were very interested in our message. So I think that we were supposed to teach them. We met with Lynn and it turns out that she was taught by the missionaries before and was a WEEK AWAY from baptism. Her and her husband were saving up money to go to the Manila temple, and she was super involved in the church. BUT.... she got offended. But she is very potential and I know we can help her forgive through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. She said she was so happy during that time in her life and wants to feel that again. In the end of the lesson she prayed and started crying... I know that her heart is already softening and it is just a matter of time.
One cool experience: One of the older investigators, Tatay Abas has been taught for a while now. He is really hard to teach because he is a big CHATTER BOX. Before that we ran into a member who we have never worked with before, Tatay Ricardo, and he agreed to come to this lesson to Tatay Abas. He ended up being the PERFECT fellowshipper for him. During the lesson we were trying to resolve his concern about coming to church... he is always full of excuses. He has prayed about the Book of Mormon and knows that it is true. He knows Joseph Smith is a true prophet but he won't come to church. In the middle of the lesson, a scripture popped into my mind: Alma 34:33. It is about how we can't procrastinate the day of our repentance. Anyway.... it really touched him. His whole demeanor changed. Then Tatay Ricardo shared a great testimony about him and his family and being sealed in the temple. Well... on Sunday, after many prayers. Him and his wife walked up to church an hour early. There are small little miracles every day and I can't fit them all in in one e-mail. But I know that the Lord's work goes forward. It is His work and one by one He is gathering His sheep.
We have one investigator that I love. His name is Wayne and he is 19 years old. He comes from a broken family and many of his sibling were baptized but are inactive now. His mom lives on a different island and is still active and referred us to him. He was very willing to listen and he is really searching. He wants to know for himself if these things are true. He has been praying and reading and he now knows the Book of Mormon is true. We have faith he can be baptized by the end of the transfer.
Just to follow up with my investigators in my last area.... Sister Hingano told me that Estellita, Ronnie, Hellen, and their son are all getting baptized. I am so excited for them, and although I am sad I won't be able to witness their baptisms, I am so happy and excited to now help the people here in Calapan.
I love this work so much. I love the Philippines. I love you. And I love the gospel. I know it is true with all of my heart and I cannot and will not deny it.