This week was Sister Tafiti's birthday! Woo-hoo! The big 22! We went to district meeting and then to Mang Inasal which is the BEST rice and chicken/pork on a stick. They give you unlimited rice and a HUGE piece of chicken for around 100 pesos (that's about $2.30). It was great. No wonder the elders love it so much (haha--they're always hungry). I can literally say I am a Filipina now since I ate with my hands! It was so fun! I'm surprised because that was the one thing I didn't want to do here, and I told myself I would take the culture in and become a part of it...except eating with my hands... Well, it wasn't that bad! It seriously takes some technique though, haha. Surprisingly, the Filipino elders in my district said I'm pretty good at it. :-)
Thursday we had our zone follow up training meeting. It was quite the long day for us since we had to travel to san pablo. We woke up at 5 and had to leave the house by 6 to get to the meeting by 10 am. It was so long! We took a jeepney, trike, jeepney, trike, and then a BUS to San Pablo. A tiny bus, might I add. The funny thing about the Philippines is everything is so SMALL! I feel like I am such a giant person every time we go anywhere. Probably cause I practically am... these cute Filipinos are just soo small. I love it. So we got to the bus stop and packed all four of us in the back of the bus with about 12 other people in the two front seats. It took us what seemed like forever to get to San Pablo City, but I tried not to focus on the fact that my body was all crumpled in a hot, tiny bus, and just take in the scenery. I just LOVE THIS PLACE. Seriously, I am SO lucky to be serving here. It's just beautiful everywhere we go. I'm so grateful to be in a province (aka, the booneys)---as opposed to a city---so that we can enjoy the wide open spaces of the palm trees and hear all the crazy animals in the morning. It's unreal, and I just feel like I'm on a vacation sometimes. I'm so lucky.
Friday we had exchanges, so I went to Lipa City and worked with one of the Sister Training Leaders, Sister Narciso. She is Filipina, and LITERALLY--I kid you not--barely 5 feet tall!!! She is the cutest. I was excited to be working with her and hear her cute little Ilocano accent all day. Lipa is HUGE. Seriously, it's so stressful. There's just people everywhere at all hours of the day, and so many cars. We taught four lessons, and then slept at their house. It was cool to be out of San Jose for a little bit in the city life. But I have to admit, it made me 10 times more grateful for my area. I learned so much from her. She's been out for 16 months so she had a lot of advice to give me. The thing that stuck out to me the most was not what she said, but her attitude all day. She was so happy and so positive about everything. She was OYM-ing so many people (open your mouth), and she wasn't afraid to talk to anyone and everyone, even if they rejected us! It really helped my confidence and I realized that people really look at our outward appearances more than what we say. As missionaries, especially as an Americana serving here, people stare at either us or our name tags all day. We are carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ with us 24/7! We should always be happy and smiling, especially when we are out and about, and showing people how the gospel makes us feel, truly feel, inside. Even as members, we should be doing that. There were so many kids just running after us, wanting to walk with us especially "The Barbie" (me. hehe) I just love the kids here. They are so loving, and serve each other so freely--especially the poor children. They work together and help each other out. It made me so grateful to have the family and siblings I have who just give so freely, and it made me realize how we should ALL give freely. Nothing we have is ours. Everything is God's, except our will. And as we give our will to God, he makes us the person we were always meant to become, before we even came to earth.
We have TWO new investigators!! The first is named Brother Jonathan who is a preacher for a Born-again Christian Church. We found him tracting our road in Calansayan (mostly cause his house looks like Jay Gatsby's mansion), and we thought, "Hey, we like a challenge." So we opened his wrought iron gate and walked up to the door and said, "tao po" (which means "people"). They don't have door bells and people don't knock, it's so fun! He came to the door and we told him who we were and he let us in and ALL of his family was just sitting in his living room. He has 5 sons who are all over the age of 16. They immediately just started asking us a million questions about what we believe in the Bible. He was throwing out all of these references and the whole time I'm just thinking to myself, "Oh, good thing I know the bible like the back of my hand. NOT!" Needless to say, Sister Tafiti and I just left, wide-eyed and sweating. (haha) We decided that we wouldn't let it get the best of us and just really try and study for his lessons! He wants us to come back another day when he's not "busy". "Busy" in the Philippines means, "I ain't interested and I'm too lazy to listen to you right now." We won't give up! We will share the gospel with everyone, even if we are the only Mormons in our area and all of our neighbors are born-again Christian, like he said :) Haha. Everyone knows where we live in Calansayan. It's so funny and awkward when we start tracting new houses because we'll go up to people and they're like, "Oh yeah! We know who you are, you're the Mormons in the big pink house." And we say, "Uh, yes... And when did we meet you again?" So funny! Provinces are just the funnest thing. Everyone knows you, even before you meet anyone! Haha!
Ahh, how grateful and BLESSED I am as a missionary. I can feel my testimony just growing as I share this gospel message with these people. I know that the Lord is counting on us to share his plan of happiness. I'm so excited to continue this mission, despite my trials already here. I know that the Lord knows me. He knows all of us individually, and whenever I see the kids run up I just can't stop smiling! I love them. They're adorable! (I'm asking president if I can take one home. :) Jokelang.
Well, that's all for this week! I'm excited for the lessons and investigators we have this week, and hopefully we will be able to help them come unto Christ more fully! keep reading, keep praying, and most importantly, REMEMBER. Here's a quote for the week said by our wonderful President Peterson at training meeting: "We need to learn to bend and bow in our relationships. That is a humble position."
I LOVE THAT! It's so true. When I heard that, this thought came to mind: Christ knelt when he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. Joseph Smith knelt in sincere prayer to find the truth. We always kneel in prayer in our companionships. It's so humble and submissive and it really does show respect for our Heavenly Father and a willingness to accept His will whatever it may be. Applying it to our companionships--and all our relationships--we can all learn to kneel and bend a little more in our relationships as we learn to work together. Think about it. Apply it. Thanks, President Peterson!
"The Barbie" :)