So, I will start with last Monday! We left early in the morning and flew to Seattle, then Tokyo, then Manila! There we stayed in the nicest hotel I have ever seen. We had a few hours to sleep and the early the next morning we were on our way to Legazpi! There, we were greeted by our mission president and assistants. We went to the Legazpi Stake Center where we had workshops and met our trainers and found out what area we would be serving in. My trainer is Sister Alabanza, she is 28 years old from the Philippines! And she is fluent in English and Tagalog so that's awesome. She translates everything for me which must be a pain to do all the time haha so she's great and I have already learned a ton from her! Every time I speak English in our apartment, I have to pay 1 piso so obviously now I am poor and I don't know any Tagalog but that's okay. Filipinos have a funny sense of humor and they keep me laughing all the time. Whenever I kill one of the many bugs in our apartment, my companion always says "Sister, you will see that bug in the Spirit World." Hahaha and everyone here says "See you in the next life." Hahaha I just laugh and laugh. Anyways, we are in the Bulan Zone, in the San Vicente Branch, which is one of the farthest from Legazpi. It took about 3 and a half hours to get there. Crazy, but my companion from the MTC, Sister Fonua is serving in our branch too! Her apartment is right above mine. Such a tender mercy to see her so often! So, I got settled into our apartment and we started planning right away. As we were making companionship goals, the first thing she said was "You need to learn how to cook rice." Hahahaha I love her.
So, Thursday was my first real day in Bulan!!! Ah, it is crazy here. We teach so many people all day. The people are incredible and they make my job as a missionary so easy because I just want to love them all. So, our area is right on the coast but it is very diverse. Some parts look like we are in the middle of the jungle and other parts are right on the beach. It is an adventure here for sure! The people here are so humble and so loving. And, they are obsessed with Americans so I feel like a celebrity everywhere I go. I will turn a corner, and they are all yelling to their friends saying "Look! An American!!" Hahaha and they follow me around calling me beautiful and trying to spit out little English phrases they know like "vhut is yewr name?" or "vhere are yew going?" One time someone called me Miss America and then they had the whole street chanting "Miss America! Miss America" Hahahahaha. They also love my pointy nose. One girl we teach always touches it and then the other day she put a clothes pin on her nose and told me she wants her nose to be like mine hahaha I laughed so hard. Have I told you all how much I love the people here? BECAUSE I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!!! Not just because they call me beautiful when I am sweaty and smelly. It's so great.
So, on Friday we had District Meeting and after we went to the only fast food restaurant here called Jollibe. It's kind of like a McDonalds but they serve rice with everything. Hahaha love that rice. Today we taught one of my favorite people here so far, Alfredo. He is a recent convert so we meet with him every week. Also, we are preparing him to baptize his 5 grandchildren next month, as they are taking the lessons right now and are committed to baptism! Ah, they are all the greatest. I'll attach a picture with some of the kids in that family. We teach them a few times a week. AKA my companion teaches and I try to bare testimony at the end. Lucky for me, most people understand a little English so I just use Taglish. Tender mercy for sure. Ah this place is just so great.
Saturday we watched conference again! On our way, we went to pick up Jake, a new investigator. We taught his mom, Sister Rudy, on Friday. Their family is one of my favorites as well. They also have two girls, who are always playing on the street so we see them a lot. They always run to us and are so excited to see us. I took a picture with them on Friday, and every day since then they keep asking for the picture and to take more pictures hahaha because everyone wants a picture with the white girl! Works in my favor because I love pictures, especially with these incredible people. So, we went to pick up Jake and it was the cutest thing. He was dressed in his nicest collared shirt with his nicest jean shorts and nicest shoes. These people have absolutely nothing, live with no electricity and no running water and some tree branches above their head but they continue to amaze me every single day. It was amazing to see that he has so little but did his best to show his respect to The Lord by dressing in his nicest clothes. THESE PEOPLE ARE INCREDIBLE AND I AM NEVER GOING TO WANT TO LEAVE!!! Just kidding mom, I miss you all too much.But we are coming back. Okay, so after Conference we taught our investigator Cristy. We taught the Doctrine of Christ and then I got to invite her to follow His example and be baptized AND SHE SAID YES!!!! Okay I was like crying so hard I could barely even get out the baptismal invitation I worked so hard to memorize haha. The Spirit was so strong and even though that was only the second time I had ever met Cristy, I love her so much already! She will be baptized on December 7th, we gave her some time because she isn't married but has children with her boyfriend, which is a common problem here in the Pines so hopefully she can work that out. It is so amazing to be a missionary because I feel so much love already for these incredible people and I know it is just a portion of the love God has for each of us!
Sunday, we watched Conference again. Okay, one of my absolute favorite things in the entire world has to be hearing these amazing people sing the English Hymns. Hahaha they sing in English during church, and they love singing here so they just belt it so shamelessly no matter if the key is off or they can't pronounce the word. Alfredo and his grandchildren were there so we taught them afterwards. I wish you could all see my planner every day. So much different from the MTC hahah every open space is full with investigators, less actives, and recent converts we are teaching all day. It is so amazing!!!
Well, I absolutely love it here. The people are so humble and they have already taught me so much. I have learned more than I ever thought and it hasn't even been a full week here! I laugh at the things I used to think were hard at home or in the MTC. It is totally a different world here! I have like 30+ bug bites all over me and I'm sweaty ALL the time and I have no idea what anyone is ever saying and I take bucket showers and wash my clothes by hand but every single hard thing is so so so SO WORTH IT for these incredible people here. Ah missionary work is the greatest ever. I am obsessed with it here and the people are amazing. Ah, I love you all so so much and hope you are all doing well. Enjoy running water and hot showers and air conditioning. Hahaha MAHAL KITA!!!!