Aligator Farm on Pday
That's mud, Mom, not blood!
I love Palawan!
Sister Delaitubuna, from Fiji! I love her!
It wouldn't be another week in the Philippines without another load of crazy adventures!!
Let's see.. the madness began last Monday night. There was a brown out ALL NIGHT and so none of us could sleep, so we all went and laid down and tried to sleep on the tile floor in our living room. It really wasn't that big of a deal, but definitely not something I'm used to! It really made me grateful for electric fans. They are a life saver!! THEN on Tuesday morning, there were MAGGOTS in our kitchen!! Apparently we had left food in the trash can too long... I don't know, but I was freakin out, as you might imagine. I just looked at Sister Parina in horror and was like "what are those?!!" Hahaha, its one of those moments of my life that I am gonna wanna rewatch in heaven, lol. I also saw a live snake this week on the road that we live on... I don't even wanna know how many times there are snakes around me in the grass we walk through. I just try not to think about it. And, the last sweet adventure was I bought an octopus! It was only the equivilant of like 2 american dollars and it was actually pretty good! Sister Parina cooked it for me and we took some fun pictures with it (: Its really chewy.. and the tentacles were kinda weird but it was good!
This week, Sister Parina's tooth was really aching again, so we went to ANOTHER dentist. (I'm pretty sure all the dentists here are frauds...) and this dentist told Sister Parina that she either needed a root canal or just to get the tooth pulled. To my horror, Sister Parina told them to pull it!! So I sat in the room while they just ripped her molar right out of her mouth! Ah, I was just in shock. I told Sister Hiatt that if that were me and I pulled my tooth out that my mother would be horrified. It just made me realize how lucky I am to have had good medical care all my life.
That was one thing that really hit me hard this week...Some things like the no air-conditioning, and the poor living conditions, I just get used to after awhile. But the poor medical care is heart breaking. I can't even tell you some of the things I see everyday that are just completely normal to people here that break my heart. Like most people can't afford diapers, and so their babies just pee right on them or on the floor! And when people get really sick, they just die rather than get the treatment they need because its too expensive. I just can't even comprehend how immensely blessed I am. Why did I get so lucky?? How was I born in the United States with the family I have?? Ah, its overwhelming some days.
BUT...despite all of the craziness that is living in the Philippines, my testimony grows stronger every day.
Yesterday we had interviews with President Ostler, and he just really expressed to me how happy Heavenly Father is with me, and how much I am worth to Him. I went into the interview expecting to talk about how I need to be more obedient, or more diligent in my studies or with the work, but President Ostler just told me that he is so proud of me and grateful for me. He told me that He felt that God just wanted me to know how much He loves me and how amazing I am in His eyes. At the beginning of my interview I prayed for us and I prayed that he could help me know how to be a better missionary.. then after I was done he said, "I want you to stay JUST the way you are." He said that I could not learn another word of Tagalog the rest of my mission and that I would be a great missionary to him. Really, he is SO kind to me. I left yesterday feeling so great about myself. After the interview, I was really pondering my worth as a daughter of God and what that means. I remembered at a devotional at BYU, Sister Dalton counseled all of us women that we should always remember who we are. She said that the knowledge that we are daughters of God should affect our every thought, belief, and action. I am coming to understand more and more what she meant. I am gaining confidence in myself here on a mission, and am recognizing where that confidence is coming from. Over and over in my studying in the Book of Mormon, it talks about how because they relied on the Lord, then they were made strong. By being humble, and recognizing where my strength comes from as a daughter of God, I am then made strong. As I come to better understand how important I am personally to Heavenly Father, it makes me want to help my investigators feel that confidence in themselves! Because I have been so blessed to know just how much I am worth in the site of God, I can bring that light and knowledge to the rest of His children. The perspective of knowing that I have great divine nature from my Father, brings me so much peace and happiness. I love this gospel SO MUCH!! I really hope that I can help others have that perspective as well.
One lesson that was really memorable this week was with our investigator, Elaina. She is a new investigator, and when we went to her house she seemed so grumpy. She was kind of rude, and we didn't feel that she wanted us there. Sister Parina said, "Maybe we'll come back another day since you are busy today." But, she insisted we come in. We started the lesson, both of us a little bit annoyed at her attitude and facial expressions. But, when we began the lesson and asked if she had any questions about what she read, she just opened up to us and poured out what has been happening in her life. She caught her husband cheating on her, and her children all live far away from her now. Instantly, our hearts were changed from ill feelings towards this women, to love. She asked question after question about the gospel, and we knew that she really was just searching for peace and love from God. Every person we meet has their own set of problems and trials. It was such a good reminder for me to love people first, and really desire to get to know them and help them before ever giving up on them.
This week, because Sister Parina and Sister Lacsamana have been sick with teeth problems, I got to go on exchanges with Sister Delaitubuna, our other kabahay from Fiji! She is amazing. It was a really neat experience for me, because she instantly connected and really LOVED my investigators and less actives who she had never met before. It was such a good reminder for me to always put love at the center of everything I do. Sometimes I get so nervous about what I am going to say, or try so hard to speak correctly, that I forget to really just love. Even with the investigators who we have been returning back to for weeks and weeks and they still haven't made it to church, I know that they are children of God. They have that same potential I do, and I can help them realize that! Love is the most important part of EVERYTHING in this life! We are here because Heavenly Father loves us and He wants us to love each other.
If there is one thing I really have learned this week, its that love is all that matters. God has put me here to love the people in the Santa Monica Branch, and He's put me with Sister Parina to really love her.
I'm so thankful for this gospel and the perspective that it gives me to know how much I am loved, and how much we ALL are loved.
And, if you want to pray for my investigators, you can pray for Elaina, the Bascongada Family, Ethan, Himaya, Natsuko, and Rose this week.
Sorry, this email was so scattered and all over the place!!
I LOVE YOU!!!
ps. Did you already pack up that box you're sending on Wednesday? I told the Hiatt's that I would ask you to send Orajel because all the missionaries here have teeth problems and they said they'd reimburse me. And do you think you could get the ones that come in the q-tip looking things for individual servings kinda?? If you can't find it its no big deal!
Life is so good! I am SO happy and life is GREAT!
One last thing...I received this email from her last night as well. So sorry to everyone who has already sent her birthday and Christmas packages! I will find out what that means for those packages already in route...
TELL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS: The post office has asked that letters and packages for our mission be addressed as follows:
Philippines Manila Mission
c/o "Missionary name"
PO Box 1997
1200 Metro Manila (note the change of zip code)
There has been a change in personnel at the post office so it is very important to put the mission name first. Christmas is coming and we expect lots of packages. Hopefully putting the mission name first will help ensure that we actually receive the packages.
Manila Mission Office