It’s pretty great here–we don’t really have a time limit on email, which is perfect for today because there is so much I have been wanting to say.
Traveling to the Philippines took FOREVER. The flight to Japan…I felt like we were on the plane sooo long. and it was worse, because we chased the sun, so I didn’t experience night until wednesday(well, whatever night it was) night in the Philippines. It felt like 2pm all day. We finally got to Manila and we were so happy to be off the plane! However, we got there at like 10pm and didn’t get to the hotel until parang (like) 1am. It took a really long time to get through customs and then a really long time to get taken to the hotel in a van. we got to the hotel and they assigned out room keys and we weren’t with our usual companions, so I roomed with Sister Nosler. The hotel was SUPER nice. we hurried and went to bed. But my alarm didn’t actually get set, so we woke up right when we were supposed to be leaving. so we hurried and got our stuff together and got in the van to go to the next airport. We waited around in the airport for a few hours, and the flight to cauayan was really short. We were picked up by the mission president. Flying into cauayan…it was soooo beautiful. Rice fields everywhere, so green. The airport in cauayan is teeeeny. our plane was the only one–the actual ‘airport’ was smaller than the bountiful bowling alley.
The mission home is really nice. We had lunch there and kind of had some orientation, then went to a meeting where we were assigned to our new companions. My companion is Sister Barril, from Laguna Philippines. She is great! She is really good at english (I think she’s been learning it since kindergarten) so that’s helpful when I need to know what Tagalog words mean.
I am assigned in Tuguegarao, the biggest city in the mission, which is also the hottest place in the Philippines, haha. We also live in the nicest apartment in the mission [hot shower]…[except not quite like you’re thinking. just assume everything I say is nothing like how it is in the states]. I’ve been told many times to enjoy it while it lasts, haha. All the floors here are either cement or tile. nobody has carpet. The chapel in San Gabriel (which is beautiful) has carpet in the chapel and relief society room, and when we saw it, Sister Ramos (our sister training leader) got really excited because it’s so rare to see carpet here. people’s homes here are like you’d never, ever expect. I wish I could take pictures with my mind and show you but I can’t, because it is crazy. I live in a city, and the homes are all really small, and usually have cement walls and tin roofs. they’re kind of all crammed together, and usually hidden back behind a row of…’stores’. because behind that row of stores is dirt pathways and lots of trees and just…cement bahays. usually one or two rooms big, maybe with a couple curtain dividers.
the ‘city’ is nothing like an American city. there is one traffic light in the Cauayan mission. there are asphalt roads, and lots of them have lines on them, but the lines aren’t strictly mandatory like the states. the lines are more like guidelines. especially when you get into the city city, traffic is just finding a gap to go through to get where you’re going. Traffic is mostly trycies and motorcycles, and some cars. Trycies drive really close to each other and just fit themselves through weird gaps. there’s no such thing as right of way and no such thing as jaywalking. you just walk through traffic because you’re part of the traffic. you’d think there’d be tons of accidents all the time, but I think it works just because it’s assertive driving and not selfish driving. it’s chaotic, though. then when you get into a palengke (market) area, there are a tooon of pedestrians. we ride the trycies everywhere.
most of my mission is rice fields, but I’m in pretty much the only city area, haha.
the people here are sooo great! so kind and especially this ward, they are so willing to help with missionary work. the leadership in the ward is a lot like it is in the centerville south stake, how motivated they are about missionary work and how much they want to work with the missionaries and get us referrals. it’s awesome. we also have dinner appointments eeeevery night! so we never have to cook dinner, which is great 🙂
Sister Barril and I are the first sisters in this area since 1998. It’s just been elders since then. Also, the ward got split into two areas, so Sister Ramos and Sister Wilkins, the sister training leaders, are the missionaries in the other half of the ward. The stake I am serving in is supposed to be used as the ‘model stake’ for the Philippines for missionary work, so I am in a great area with a lot of great people.
I’ve met many wonderful people here already. It’s frustrating not to be able to participate more in lessons and conversations because I really want to. People are always trying to be courteous and tell me just to speak english because they can see I struggle with tagalog, but that gets really frustrating as well. I know they can understand some of what I say in english, but I know many of them don’t quite understand it as clearly. and many times people don’t really understand my tagalog, either, so, it’s just kind of frustrating. but according to several people, I’m pretty advanced for the first few days in the field, so it should come with time and I’m just trying to be patient with it.
There is this nanay in this family who lives near us, members who we have dinner with sometimes, and she is soooo cute and so funny! she’s 75, and she is really thin and wrinkly and has no teeth. so cute, and has kind of a sassy attitude, haha. their family is great. the little boys are a little younger than tom and sam and they watch this weird filipino cartoon that looks similar to pokemon, but it’s in tagalog, haha.
We had a lot of OYM’s(open your mouth…basically tracting) this week, and so we’ll be following up with some people this week. We taught four lessons. The family who lives across from us are really nice. We met two of them waiting for a trycie one day and then we taught them the first lesson yesterday. they seem really interested and receptive and the lesson went well, even though I couldn’t say much. We are excited to go back. We taught three other lessons, and it’s hard for me because Sister Barril will let me talk but two things are hard about that—I can’t understand always a ton of what she says, so I’m never sure where to begin, and then I don’t know how to say it either. Mostly I just try to smile a lot at people because I can’t really do anything else.
This first week has been hard, but I am really happy to be here and am excited to continue working. The gospel is real and I am so grateful to have this opportunity to teach people about it.
I love you all!!