Monday, September 2, 2013

Sept. 2, 20013 Hello from the heat of the Philippines!

A typical meal.  Lots of rice.
  And they eat everything with spoons.
The fork is just to push food onto the spoon
They drink sodas in bags because bottles and cans are super expensive

We are in the southern part of the mission close to Bataan so there are lots of Bataan death march memorials.  This one was really cool!
They also have markers every few kilometers

Our baptism!  Sis Mafi and I are standing beside Danilo (Our investigator)

Kumusta pamilya!!!

Well, this week was pretty normal....funny how living in the Philippines is becoming normal....and I can't believe that I only have one week left until the transfer and my trainer goes home!  Time really does go fast out here....and sometimes slow but we'll just focus on the fast part!  My trial for the week was the heat.  Holy cow.  I have never sweated so much in my entire life....even while working out.  Like seiously, you are never dry.  Ever.  And I am actually grateful that we only have cold water for our shower.  I have also never felt so grateful for fans in my life.  Since there is no AC here (except in the computer shops and a few other places), fans are my best friend.  It kind of makes it hard to sleep sometimes becasue it is so hot but hoppefully I'll get used to it becasue it's just going to get hotter!  I really am lucky that I got here during cool season.

This week we had a companion exchange with some other sisters.  My companion for the day was Sister Dela Torre (Philippino) and she came here at the same time as me.  So I was super nervous because we were both new and she came to my area.  So I had to lead.  But the good thing was the she speaks Tagalog so that helped a ton.  She was super good at teaching and it was fun to see a different way of doing missionary work.  I am so proud of myself that I didn't get lost (navigation here is soooooo hard because everything looks the same) and we had some really good appointments.  That gave me a little more confidence that I can lead my area when Sister Mafi goes home.

Some members in church wanted to see a picture of my family so I brought it to church yesterday.  They said "Where's your mom and dad?"  So I pointed you out and they were like "Oh!  They are so young!  I thought they were siblings!"  And they thought our family was so beautiful.  They were just enamored with the blond hair and white skin.  And our noses.  They like white people noses here.  Kind of funny.

Another funny thing of the week was that I discovered that Christmas here starts on Sept 1.  So as of yesterday, everyone is playing Christmas music and we sang Christmas songs in church.  And apparently it lasts until February.  They really love Christmas here!  It's kind of weird though because it's not getting cooler so to me, it does not seem like Christmas should be anytime soon.  (And really, it's not)

The highlight of the week was of course the baptism for our investigator, Danilo Valiente.  It was supposed to be at 5 pm, but everyone here runs on Filipino time, so we got there at 4:30 and only the baptizer and the other baptizee Bienvenido (yes, for all you Spanish speakers, that really is his first name) was there.  Danilo didn't show up until 5:20 and I was super afraid that he had forgotten.  And we didn't have any other priesthood holders to witness.  So we were trying to get priesthood holder to come witness and the other sisters went to a members house to get one.  The baptism didn't start until about 5:55 pm but I guess that's just Filipino culture.  And people were still showing up for it at 6:30.  Bienvenidos had to be baptized twice and it was a little rough....he was kind of thrown into the water.  Danilo and Bien are probably late 60s/early 70s and that baptizer was too.  I was afraid someone was going to get dropped or drown!  But it all worked out in the end.  And of course, the Spirit was there although everything was so disorganized.  It was also neat to see Danilo baptized because I guess we are his 3rd or 4th set of missionaries.  It took a long time but I guess it's finally the right time for him.  That's something that I've had to learn here, everyone needs our message, but we have to be patient if they aren't ready right away.

We also had an amazing experience in one of our lessons where the spriit was so strong.  Our investigator, Jun, really wants to know if it is true.  And he reads the book of mormon and has many questions each time we come.  The probably is he can't come to church because he can't walk very well and his knees hurt really bad.  We had a member with us in that lesson and mostly they talked together about praying and receiving answers.  At the end, I bore my tesimony that I didn't understand a lot of what they had said, but I could feel the spirit very strong.  And I felt prompted to tell him that he had felt the spirit too.  Then I asked him how he felt and he said "masaya (happy).  It's hard to describe." And then I told him that that was the spirit.  It was a super powerful lesson and it was one of the moments that I walked away from really really loving being a missionary.

Well, although I am sweaty and hot everyday and I miss the fam, I know that this is where I am supposed to be!  I know that the Lord protects and watches over his missionaries and gives his missionaries some really unique experiences.  It makes it worth every appointment that people aren't there, or don't keep their commitments, or don't come to church.  The only thing I would tell all of you back at home is that memeber missionaries are so powerful and helpful. Please be member missionaries!  Although it may be scary or hard sometimes, missionaries have the most success when the members are involved in the missionary work.

Mahal Kita!!

Sister Sirrine

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