Hello from San Jose!! This week has been good, yet overwhelming! So many people here in this little area... I don't even know where to start! My first week here in the mission was definitely one that will go down in history as probably one of the most overwhelming, stressful, funny, emotional, and every other emotion possible weeks of my life.
So our apartment is a no go.... it's really bad! Mold EVERYWHERE. In fact, so much mold that it latched onto ALL of my garments. 14 pairs people. I honestly don't even know how it happened... There I was just doin my thing with my two little washing buckets sitting outside enjoying the nice humid musty air, scrubbing my lovely little garment tops and bottoms until my knuckles were about to bleed, (for 2 hours mind you) I hung them up to dry and the next morning I woke up they were GREEN. Everywhere. I gagged. Hard core. It was sooo weird!! And in that moment I missed our MTC washer and dryers. haha I called Sister Hansen, our lovely little mission home assistant, and she told me if they don't get bleached or clean after that, to just chuck them.
The next day, we were just eating the usual brown rice with some cabbage and other stuff that I'm not really sure what it is but I just eat because I'm hungry, and we heard this bloody murder squealing. I thought a child was getting kidnapped. We ran outside and Sister Banzali just starts laughing soo hard. This PIG or baboy was running up our street. It actually wasn't just running... it was BOOKING IT up our street. And our street isn't very big so it was covering major ground. It wasn't just a pig. It was like 5 pigs in one body. This baboy was MASSIVE hahaha. It was running toward our apartment and all four of us girls just ran inside our apartment screaming and laughing so hard. I seriously was afraid for our little apartment that it would somehow just bulldoze it down and run us over. We watched out our tiny little window as this truck full of all these pigs and farmers on top are hauling it to get their pig back... They hopped out with a BAG. A tiny little bag to catch this Bear of a pig. It was hilarious watching these 4 foot tall filipino farmers try and get this pig that could eat them both if he wanted to.. they tried cornering it and it was hilarious watching them try to dodge the pig when it would go all wild... HAHA oh man, it was definitely a had to be there moment but still so funny.. They finally got it up into the truck and we were all just dying.
So since our apartment is so bad, we have to move :( to Calansayan, a little city like 10 minutes from San Jose Poblacion 2. It's kind of sad because that means transportation is going to cost a lot more since we no longer live by the markets or the chapel or anyone for that matter... all of our investigators and members usually live in lapu-lapu or tug-tug. So... yeah. haha but it's such a blessing because A)There's mold. I don't know how we are still in good health with all of the mold in our apartment. and B) it's a house!! With two bathrooms and two working hot plates!! Whoo!! haha it's so nice! I'm so excited and I will be taking pics of our house once we officially move in :) It's kind of awkward walking home every night because the drivers always call to us and want to give us rides... and it gets dark here at 6 so it's always kind of scary at night but dont worry mom, we're safe.
So people keep asking me if they can take my picture hahaha... Actually, they don't really ask they just run up to me and pull their phones out and then speak Tagalog and since I'm still a baby here in the mission I just smile and say Salamat po! And then they just walk away still staring at me..they really do love americans over here. Everytime we tract in Tug Tug there's always kids playing basketball in the dirt street with a little makeshift hoop. It's adorable. They always run up to us and want us to play which is SO HARD to decline, but whenever they see me come they say, "The Barbie! The Barbie is here!" So, apparently I look like a barbie. Never got that one before, hahaha. I don't think I'll ever get used to the fame here..all because I'm American. I really do love them, these people. They're so kind and fun loving. Especially the children. They have nothing and yet they are so giving and so HAPPY. It's amazing to me. I love tracting because all the little kids just follow us around and want to come with us everywhere we go. And they're cute little faces just kill me.
Filipino transportation is literally unlike any other. It's so fast paced, especially when we go to Lipa city where it's like new york ttype of traffic. On the jeepney you can just strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone, it's great! It's been kind of weird though because some people have never even heard of the Church before and growing up in happy valley utah, it's definitely a shock sometimes. But I have to remember that I'm half a world away from America. I never thought about how I would tell someone about our church who's never even heard it in 3 minutes on a jeepney ride. I have failed many times, and sometimes it's been awkward cause I'm halfway in my sentence about Joseph Smith and they say "Barra po" and get off. hahah I just laugh with my kasama and try again. It's so fun! I love the jeepneys. Seriously the transportation here is so fun. Jeepney, trike, or walk. no one really has a car. They just walk everywhere. And the jeepney drivers drive FAST and furious. They are crazy. It's so fun and scary to ride into Lipa city because there is no traffic laws everyone just drives. They don't even have crosswalks, you just go and sometimes people stop for you. It's a little life threatening but hey, when in rome do as the romans do.
So the investigators here are great, but they never come to church when we commit them to so that's kind of hard. But, there is one investigator in particular that we are so blessed to have. Her name is Minda and she has 4 kids. We found her through a referral from the ward and she is SO READY for the gospel. We taught her lesson 1 and she believes it is true. It's so amazing her faith in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Her husband has heard the missionaries before, but then turned them away because he didn't feel ready and same with Minda. It's been a couple years since they've heard the missionaries, but she said that she just feels different with Sister Tafiti and I. Her husband hasn't been to the lessons yet since he drives a tricycle, but we are going to teach both of them in a few days! I'm so excited for them. I really feel like they are ready and that the Lord has prepared them for us.
Jobel, a 15 year old girl is also preparing for baptism. She is the cutest. She is so shy and quiet, and is very poor. She is the only one in her family that is ready for the gospel, and we have loved teaching her. She reads the Book of Mormon everyday and is really excited to be getting baptized soon. I am amazed at her faith despite her dad and other family members trying to tear her down. She is so strong! It's funny how the Lord works sometimes, because we were teaching her tatay (dad) but he just wasnt progressing at all. She listened to us and wanted to learn more, and now she is getting ready to be BAPTIZED! It's so exciting!
Overall, a pretty good week so far. Not too much craziness, but yesterday was definitely a rough day for me. My kasama was sick, and so we didn't go out at all after church. We stayed in all day and I really started to feel homesick. I'm still learning, growing, and I'm not yet the missionary I want to be or that the Lord wants me to be... I am learning that sometimes its hard in life to rely solely upon Heavenly Father when you're whole life you've relied on everyone else. I feel like that is a hard lesson to learn but the earlier we learn it, the better off we will be. When we rely on Him, He reminds us of what we can become through his plan. It's really hard being out here. I think I can finally understand when people tell me that they can't explain it to you, you just have to experience it. But it's Faith that we have to rely on in our lives because life is not easy. We all need God. We all need the Savior. I'm grateful to learn and know Him more here in the Philippines. Don't ever think for one second that I don't miss home, my family, my bed, my country. But the cool thing is, is that I am Happy. I am happier than I've ever been in my life. I can't explain it, but I just am. Missions are the best and the worst 18 months to 2 years of your life, it's true!
Well, that's all for this week. Hopefully more exciting things will happen here in this wonderful little place I call my home for the next 16 months. :) Keep praying, Keep reading, And most of all keep relying on Christ. He makes it possible.
xoxo, Sister Seastrand