Monday, January 5, 2015

Oh my gulay it's 2015?!?!

My beloved family....

Oh my goodness.  It is 2015.  As you can see in the title, "oh my gulay" is a common expression here in the Philippines.  Haha instead of saying "oh my gosh," they will often say "oh my gulay" or "oh my ulam" which when directly translated is.... haha... "oh my vegetable!" and "oh my main dish!" hahah.  And the New Year's Eve/Day celebration here was the biggest event that I have yet seen here in the Philippines. 

I came to find out that Christmas really isn't that big of a celebration.  In fact it turned out to be more of Halloween (which they don't celebrate here).  Basically, kids go from house to house saying, "mamasko!" and people give them money.  Sometimes great amounts of money.  Haha I was shocked.  Although the Philippines is fairly poor, they don't think twice about handing out money to the young namamasko haha.  They did eat some food, but not too much.  There were some fireworks... but not too many.  There were progressively more and more fireworks until New Year's Eve.

 Sister Morales, known as Mamo.  She is SUPER close to all the missionaries.  She is like our mom here in Sta. Cruz.  She is probably the most charitable, selfless person I know.

 Sister Morales made us this FEAST on New Year's Day.  Fried chicken, chicken curry (with pineapple and pickles), chop suey, cucumbers (she knows that's my fave, etc.  So delicious

Sister Kekauoha, Sister Conching & me with Puto

Sister Conching, she is the BEST!
For New Year's.... they cook and eat lots of food.  They eat lots of sticky rice (my fave... with coconut milk) and also this thing called Palamay which is like sticky rice, but the rice is ground up extremely fine and it takes hours and hours to make.  Haha it's pretty good but it sticks to your teeth like crazy.  They eat these sticky treats in hopes that their family will stick together.  They eat lots and lots of sweet desserts - graham cake and buko salad out the wazoo, in hopes of obtaining sweet relationships in their family.  They eat round fruits and hang them above their door in hopes of a prosperous year... money money money.  (Probably to try and make up for all the money they handed out to the munchkins)  They eat lots of noodles and spaghetti in hopes of a long life.
Puto, it's like steamed cake? masarap!

The whole day it got progressively louder and louder with fireworks, videoke, and like canon/firework things?  It is scary because at this time of year, they sell lots of fake guns... but their not the super colorful/obviously fake guns.  They look like real hand-guns haha.  All of the kids have them and it freaks me out every time I hear a firework go off and look and see a kid holding a gun straight out.  Nakakakilabot (gives you chills.)  That night, everyone drinks like crazy and the music is sooo loud.  Haha.... I was soo pooped I went to sleep at 10:30.  I don't know how I slept but maybe I was trained for it from all those naps on the boat growing up haha.  But Sister K said when the clock struck midnight everyone jumped in their cars and tricycles and revved their engines like crazy.  People screaming/yelling/singing and then kids blowing those noise-makers.  Haha it is quite the occasion.  I was so sick of eating by the end.  No matter how hard I tried to reject the food, they basically forced you to eat it.  Haha it was quite the experience and a fun way to bring in the new year..... even though I was lame and passed out... I feel I still experienced the most of it.

Dining on the terrace with the Cortez Family(Ginataang langka, ginataang tulingan, shanghai, pansit bihon,
leche plan at spaghetti salad)

But it is 2015?!  I can't believe it.  This year I will have been graduated from high school for 5 years.  Haha to be honest, this isn't where I expected to be, or the path that I anticipated taking (U ballet program 2 years, change major, change schools, THEN go on a mission), but I wouldn't change it one bit.  Actually, I can see how the crazy turn of events in my life have been prophesied in my patriarchal blessing.  I know that I still have many joys and experiences ahead and I am excited that I still have 6 months out here in the field!! Although... too short.

Me, sister K, Elder Wanoa, Elder Adamson, Elder Tabbilos
Because there was so much traffic during this holiday season, transfer day ended up being on Tuesday and Sister K and I had to go to the Bayan all day long, waiting at the plaza for missionaries to come through.  Missionaries don't go to the mission home anymore.  They just go directly to their areas and so they have certain check points where the ZL's and STL's go to ensure the missionaries made it there safely.  Haha it was such a long day and we were so happy when we finally got to go home but we only snuck in one lesson. 

Brother and Sister Pamilacan.  Sister is a member and brother has been an investigator for more than a year.  
Although, we did meet another black guy at McDonald's who married a Pilipino.  They both live in LA and she was visiting her family.  His name is Promise.  Anyway... we had an interesting conversation and it's always weird to OYM in English but it's fun and feels a little more sincere in some way.  Anyway... they both agreed to be taught by the missionaries so we'll send their name to the church office as a referral.  Who knows?  That would be sweet if they ended up getting baptized and they were introduced to the church all the way in the Philippines.  It made me a little sad talking to him though because he said that because his family is broken and there are so many broken families, he doesn't believe that it can be the true source of happiness anymore.  From everything he said, he only cared about money, traveling, and worldly things.  But he did say he believes in God and wants to find the truth so hopefully he can find where true happiness lies.

Even though it was New Year's and transfer day... this week was one of our best (as far as numbers go) and once again... we saw so many miracles.  We have been trying to meet with lots of members to get referrals and we were super blessed this week.  This truly is the promised land.  Because of our fasts

and prayers (both as a companionship and as a mission) our teaching pool is FULL OF FAMILIES.  I think this is every missionary's dream and I feel so blessed and like I don't deserve it.  As of now... we are teaching 7 potentially completed families! Nuts. 
The Perez Family
Last week, we found the Sosong family.  The father has been a member and less-active for a long time and has been visited many times but has never come back.  Apparently, the Saturday that we met him, he had a conversation with his wife about how he wanted to come back to church and hopefully that she and their two kids would be baptized.  He wanted to help his kids to understand the importance of God and the gospel.  Later that day, Sister K and I were in a hurry but decided to OYM them.  They came to church Sunday and are progressing slowly but surely.  We might have to re-extend their baptismal date and we want to focus on Adrian and build his testimony as he is the head of the house.  We also went back to teach this family that Sister K had taught once before but never followed-up on.  Last time, they only taught the father, haha but when we went back, we saw on his clock that he had cut out the picture of Christ ministering to the Nephites and put it there haha.  He and his wife were also receptive.  We also found the Litan family, which is a referral.... 3 sons... super smart... super potential.  We are so excited and I feel so blessed!!

I took this picture because I thought she was so cute!
Last night, we contacted the families of the siblings of Sister Reyes (recent convert).  She bore her testimony and said that she spent a long time really praying to know whether or not the Book of Mormon is true.  Finally, one night she had a dream (almost like Lehi's dream) where she saw all of these people everywhere and two buildings.  One was a safe home that was super stable.   The other was this sort of rock building.  She and all of these members of the church were hurrying into the house when she saw all of her friends and family mocking her and getting into the rock building.  She tried to get them to come but they wouldn't.  Right as she got inside, the rock building and all those in it were destroyed.  For her that was an answer (again.... not really the answer that I feel through the Holy Ghost) but she knew it was true.  She was really trying to explain to her siblings how much she loved them and that she just wanted them to be safe, happy, and know the truth.  It was a cool testimony and she bore it with power we could all feel the spirit.  Her siblings all give her a hard time for becoming a Mormon, but last night they all agreed for us to go back and share more.

I love being a missionary.  I love this work.  I love this gospel.
I know that the church is true and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ lives.

I love you!!

Love, Sister Rasmussen
Me, Elder Allen & Sister K

My Area Map of Sta. Cruz

Ward Christmas Party with the Cortez family

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