I am happy to report that I have survived another week in this great country. AH I AM OBSESSED WITH IT HERE! I can’t say it enough. The people here are amazing and I have so so so much respect for them already. Ah I don’t even know where to begin!
It is crazy different here.I keep saying that I will be invincible when I come home. I kill like 100 ants every like 5 minutes and spiders and mosquitoes and everything you can think of. So, the main transportation are tricycles, which are bikes attached to a little seat carriage thing that fits like 2 normal people aka like usually 6 Filipinos. Everyone here is in love with Americans. They all want to touch my light skin and pointy nose. Haha. Like as soon as I turn a corner to walk down a new street somehow within like 5 seconds the whole street knows there is an American out and they all just stare and scream any English phrases they know. Sometimes it’s “happy birthday sister beautiful!” or “happy new year!” or my favorite, “thou art so beautiful!” Hahaha these people know how to boost my confidence when I’m my sweatiest and smelliest I’ve ever been. Haha okay now onto the highlights of the week:
Ah okay let’s start with Monday. After we emailed, we visited a recent convert, Rudy. I know I say this about everyone but he really is one of my favorites. Hahaha he is 70 I believe. I met him at church the week before, and he found out I didn’t speak good Tagalog yet so he went home and translated a prayer in English so he could pray the next week in English for me so I would understand. Hahha even though the English prayer didn’t really make sense, it was so cute. Sweetest man in the world. This week he saved me a spot by him in gospel principles class. Hahaha he’s the best.
On Tuesday, we had community service project, which was at a school and we just cleaned it up a little. The members here are so nice and treat us missionaries so well, everywhere we go there is food and some kind of fruit drink. Ah I love everyone here. Okay, also on Tuesday we taught our new investigator Jake for the first time! He’s 11 and crazy and so much fun. It’s hard to get him to calm down for our lessons haha but when he does he is pretty serious about it. It’s so amazing to see how the Spirit works through people. We see so much potential in him and I can’t wait to keep teaching him. He also came to church this week for the second week in a row yay! Oh yeah and on Tuesday there was an earthquake here! We felt it a little but not too bad. We met with an older lady later on in the week, and she was talking about the earthquake. She said a whole Catholic church collapsed and she just said “well obviously because it isn’t the true church” with the most serious face. Filipinos have the funniest sense of humor hahaha they keep me laughing allllll the time. Tuesday we also taught the Concina family. Another one of my favorites (hehe okay everyone is my favorite but still) Jovelyn and Jorel Concina are getting baptized THIS SATURDAY!!!!! It may or may not be the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me. They are the cutest ever and are so excited to be baptized! They are the first in their family, we are working with the others. There is so much potential in this family and I love teaching them! Last week, I taught them the Law of Tithing and they just stared at me when I was done and all started laughing! Hahaha apparently they were surprised with my Tagalog and they decided to laugh at me. At first I thought they were making fun of me so I laughed too haha because I thought I said something wrong, but my companion said that a lot of Filipinos react in that way. They are literally always happy and laughing here I love it. And, my ability to speak has grown so much being so immerged into this amazing country. THE GIFT OF TONGUES IS SO REAL! God is so mindful of us. I could never do any of this without Him!
Wednesday morning we taught Melanie, a less active. We taught one of my favorite scriptures, Mosiah 24:13-16. It is about how God is mindful of us and He visits us in our afflictions. She was balling as I (tried to) read it to her and as I testified to her I was balling and balling. God really does visit us in our afflictions. I have learned that here more than ever. It was so hard at first being in a crazy country that is so different than anything I’m used to, but I found SO MUCH comfort in the fact that He knows me and He knows what I’m going through, and HE WILL HELP ME THROUGH IT! Because without Him I am literally nothing. Sister Melanie was crying and I was crying and I doubt she could understand anything I was saying but the Spirit was strong. These people have so many trials in their lives. I have seen people get kicked out of their houses and forced to live on the streets with no money and no food for their children and it is so sad. I wish I could just give them everything I own but I can’t. But I can share the gospel with them. I can try my best to testify to them that God is so aware of them and knows them by name. He knows what we are going through is so hard but He has a plan for us. This verse hit home for Sister Melanie and for me as well. I am so grateful for that experience and I am so grateful to know that this gospel can bring so much hope to all! On Wednesday we also taught one of our other new investigators, Miraflor. We taught about the Book of Mormon and it’s importance in our lives. I love these people so much. They are all going through such hard trials in their lives but their faith is so strong. I love being able to share the hope this gospels brings to people! It is an amazing thing.
The next few days we taught the Naris kids, Alfredo’s grandchildren who will all be baptized by him in November. Ah I love them so much already and their excitement about the gospel inspires me. And they understand English so that is totally a plus. Haha exciting things are in store for San Vicente and I love it and I LOVE my opportunity to be a part of it!
Sunday was my first real church experience here since my first week was Conference. Okay, seriously probably my favorite thing so far is seeing these amazing people come together to attend church. Our branch is a good size. Lots of less actives, so Sister Alabanza and I have been getting to know them pretty well. We had about 20 less active and investigators at church this week. TALK ABOUT BLESSINGS!! Ah. So amazing. Like I think there was a smile plastered on my face for the whole day because of that. The members here are so faithful and have such strong testimonies. Words can’t even begin to describe how happy it made me seeing all of them attend church. We had visited two different less active men from the ward this past week and shared a message with them. They both hadn’t attended church in over 3 years. To see them both walk up to the church in their nicest white shirt and tie almost brought tears to my face! Ah. I have become such a cry baby here but it’s okay. I bore my testimony in church since I am a new missionary in the ward and I just cried the whole time and they probably think I’m crazy and they don’t even know what I’m saying because my Tagalog is so broken and slow hahaha but I just love everyone here so much!
The work here is amazing. I can’t say it enough. There is so much work to be done and I love every second of it. These people have far more to teach me than I could ever teach them. They make my job as a missionary so SO easy because I just want to love every single one of them. There is a little 8 year old boy cousins to an investigator we are teaching, his name is Jansen. Every time I am anywhere close to his house all the sudden he comes out of no where and says “Sister Ratgee you so bootiful” Hahahaha like I just never want to leave here ever!!!! It’s amazing. It’s so humbling but the only thing I would want to be doing right now. I am obsessed with it here. I hope you are all doing amazing and know that I am praying for each one of you! I have the best family and friends in the world. I love you all!!!!!
PS- here are some pictures, one is with the Naris family, one with another family we teach and the crazy one is with the Concina family.Ignore the sweat dripping down my face in every picture. Hahaha