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Monday, December 5, 2011

First Impressions: Seriously......Where do I begin?

Me and my trainer, Sister Fajardo

Dec 4, 2011

Talaga...Hindi ko alam paano magsimula! (Really, I dont know how to begin!)
haha...this whole last week has seemed so surreal! So when I first got here I met Pres & Sis. Jensen, they are soo sweet, and I love them so much. They just kept saying dont worry about anything, dont be scared or have a bad time, but just be positive and you will be just fine. Their mission house felt like we were still in America. Seriously I thought..geez I can totally do this if this is what I get to live in. Well, on Friday I met my trainer, Sister. Fajardo. Sweet little Sis. Fajardo, I LOVE her, she is soo fantastic, and patient and loving and kind and Filipino! :) haha Anyways, we had another 4 hour ride in a Jeepney to my first assigned area: Lingayen 1st. That is also the ward we are over. When I saw our apartment, I about died. It is...different! haha The pictures that I took doesn't even do it justice, it actually doesn't look that bad in the pics, but trust me IT IS! Well I got to drop off my
luggage, and it was 8pm by this point so I thought we would just do daily planning and go to bed...nope. We went off to meet the Castillo family, and boy was I shocked. We were walking in pitch black night, and we went through like a jungle to get to that area. We then passed these houses made out of bamboo/ scraps of whatever they could get and saw this naked man just laying there, taking a bath...and it smelled I was in a bathroom. haha Anyways, we go to their house which really is about the size of Mom and Dad's bathroom downstairs...if that big. It is a family that are members, but not very active. Actually the daughter, Rose is active- she is planning on going on a mission, but her brother Berley and her Mom Rose are not active. Anyways, my kasama had me say the prayer and bear my testimony and talk about how God is our loving Heavenly Father and the Book of Mormon. I told her I'm not good at tagalog and she said so what, just say what you know and they'll
get the point.  So...I did.  They all said "Ay, Magaling  sa Tagalog!"  You're soo good at Tagalog or "Magandan Tagalog".  Beautiful/great tagalog. Well, I know they're being nice, but they couldn't believe it was my first day there and I could already speak tagalog! haha
Well, that night I went to bed feeling really good, because the spirit was really strong during that visit and I remembered why I was on a mission. Well...the second day here...that morning before I got in the "shower" and by shower I mean, bucket in a smelly room. I just sat on my bed and cried and told my trainer I can NOT do this.  I want to go home.   I told her I needed to talk to Pres. Jensen or something, because I couldn't do it, and there was no reason for me. The work would go on without me. was terrible. My first impressions were: I live in a dump, there are cobwebs and bugs everywhere. We constantly have fans on us because it is sooo hot and there is no AC obviously. I shower out of a bucket and supposed to go to the bathroom using my hand. I am covered with mosquito bites up and down my legs and arms. Everyone stinks here, and my kitchen is in terrible shape and disgusting. I don't eat hardly ever, and when I do it is food I don't like. I break out in hives every 5 seconds, and the water we use to shower and wash our dishes smells like and IS rusty water. I itch and feel terribly dirty even after I shower. My hair blowdryer and straightener dont work here, and there really is no point to using it anyway. I feel like there is a line of sweat/ water all over my body constantly, and acne is really common here for Americano's because of it. EVERYONE stares at me, and I have to wash my laundry out of a bucket here too. Lets see...I'm sure I could go on and on about first impressions. Seriously, I was ready to go home the first day. Then, my trainer told me to remember why I am here, which is what I have been saying all along It's not about me, its about Christ, and I want to help others to have the joy that I have. She said try it today and forget yourself and see what happens. Well, after personal study, companionship study, and language study, we got to work again. We walk a TON, but also ride a lot of pedicabs and tricycles...and jeepneys and buses haah. But anyways, we visited a few families that day, and had a baptism that evening. My first baptism to Sister Moisesa. Please show Logan and Kirt the baptisimal font, I'm sure it will bring back memories for Kirtis, and they'll both remember they're lucky that it is just freezing cold water and not dirty gross nasty water haha! I can tell already there is a LOT of work to be done here. They have about 780 Members just in this area- 90 are
active. Talaga? What the heck! I guess people here just joined the church because Missionaries before would tell them that the church will help them, and so they saw it as a personal gain for them, they thought the church would actually support them. Sis. Fajardo was telling me she even asked one member that they were visiting if she had prayed to know the book of mormon was true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and she said no. She was BAPTIZED! What the heck? makes me soo mad to think that the missionaries here just cared about numbers and just wanted a baptism. It's ridiculous. I honestly don't care if I have a single baptism here, I am focusing my mission on reactivating these people. Helping them to gain a testimony of the work, so that they know WHY- just like Pres Uchtdorf talked about last conference in his "forget me not" talk. Anyways, I have seen so many tender mercies here so far. I got to witness a baptism, I have extended an invitation to baptism of a family on March 4th- The Hernani Family- A father with 4 children, his wife passed away. It was so sweet yesterday when we visited with him and Sister. Fajardo went through all of the children and asked if they had prayed about Joseph Smith and the book of mormon and the young son, probably around 15 said he had prayed, and that he could not sleep because he kept thinking about it and he knows it is true. And then had tears in his eyes as we told him he could see his mother again some day. I have visited the 2nd counselor here in the RS presidency, who has been inactive the last month, because she wants to keep her store open so she can get more money. We told her, and she started to cry when I told her I had been to church, and I know the members can be frustrating, but the ward needs her. They need her leadership, and if she will magnify her calling and give all to the Lord, he will give back and she will be blessed. Yesterday we picked up an 83 year old man who seriously weighs 50 lbs haha legit...and he can hardly see, but he is a member and he wants to go to church but can't afford to pay so we walked a few miles and then payed for transportation and fetched him so he could come to church. We taught one member, Brother Rod who is a member but inactive- we taught him 2 nights ago and he said he was dating a nonmember and asked if that was allowed. I told him of course it was allowed. He said he would give her up if it meant he could come back to church again and have a fresh start. I told him he is always welcome and it is his personal choice, but he cannot be sealed in the temple to be with his family forever unless both of them are members and worthy to be there. The Reyes family- I cry when I just think about them. This brother and sister are not legally married, but have 7 children together- 5 boys, 2 girls. as I look at them, they have committed to baptism and that is going to be their Christmas present from God. Their baptisimal gift is the 24th. We are having a marriage ceremony for them in the morning and then they will be baptized later that day. The missionaries before told them they either had to be married or seperate if they wanted to be members. So, they are going through all of that to be members. They have been investigators for a year. I look at them, and their boys and I see such strength. They are raising another army of heleman. I have noticed here the youth are very receptive and active in the gospel, it is surprisingly the older generation that struggles with staying active and keeping commitments. I have seen lives change, and it hasn't even been a week. I still cannot believe it.
I have had moments daily when I want to go home. I get homesick so badly, and I miss my Mom and Dad and my pamilya madalas ay...I mean often and I want to be home. I also get so frustrated because I cannot speak tagalog, and understand most of what is being said. Filipinos talk/ whisper when they say a prayer, so I can hardly even hear what is being said, let alone interpret it. haha Everyone has a different accent. Like I said, I have an amazing trainer who helps me learn a lot and pushes me. She told me she was grateful for me because she has been able to feel the spirit every time I testify- and so have the members. Now...if only they could understand what I'm saying! haha...hopefully it will come soon! :)
So anyways, moral of the story is, life was miserable at first. I still think it is miserable at times. But those times are when I am thinking of myself. Well, thats not what I'm here to do. I am here to serve the Lord. There is a great work to do, many to help, and every time I get out there and work the day goes by fast, and I am reminded of my purpose. Please keep me in your prayers though...this is tough stuff out here.
Anyways, I will attach pictures for you to look at- know that life is crazy but good. Whats the point in life if you dont have a little adventure and suffer? ay? haha
Mahal na Mahal na Mahal Kita!!!


A typical home

First Baptism, Sister Moisesa

Bapisimal Font
Our Kitchen

Our Bath tub

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