So, not much time to write my email this week so it's a little short, but hopefully I get some goods things in this.  

Can I bring them home with me?
 These are some of our recent converts
I think the typhoon is over for now!!  YAYAYAY!!  It's been sunny for almost an entire day now and for the first time in awhile, I came home yesterday only a little wet!  Happy day.  This last week though was a nightmare, so much water.  The storm got so bad on Tuesday that we had to stay in our apartment and couldn't go outside all day.  Even if we would have tried to go outside, right outside our door was 3 feet of water and garbage.  Thankfully we had power even though most people didn't and so I spent the day labeling everything in our apartment with Tagalog sticky notes.  Ya.  Don't worry, I've gained the awkward missionary status.  My free time is spent taping pamphlets about the first vision and practicing Tagalog.  Please teach me how to be normal again when I get home.

Can I bring them home with me?
 These are some of our recent converts
 There were fiestas in Mieasan and Kapambpangan (two of our areas) on Friday, and let's just say the Filipinos here go crazy on fiesta days.  There were fireworks that started going off around 5am, people were already drunk by the time afternoon came around (drunk FIlipinos are waaaay funnier than drunk Americans), and there were tables of food down every single walkway and path.  We were walking to one of our investigators house and as I was walking around some of the puddles, I noticed they were all full of red water.  Weird, but whatever.  Then I walked under a roof of a tindihan store and right into a dog skeleton hanging down from the roof!  In front of me was a giant tub full of the different parts of the dog (skin and all) they were skinning for the fiesta later.  SO GROSS.  JUST SO NASTY.  
Thursday and Friday were follow-up training for all the newbies like me and IT WAS SO GOOD TO SEE MY FELLOW WHITE PEOPLE AGAIN!  Tell sis. pilkington's mom and sis. hess's mom that they are doing so so good and we have all grown so much in just three weeks.  They made us food (tried sweet and sour fish, yummy yummy), we got to meet with the mission president, and catch up with everybody and it was just happy.  Oh and I finally got LETTERS!!!  Best thing of my whole life.  Thank you everybody for pretty much making my whole month, even little letters are good letters for missionaries, so I love you all.  
Follow-Up Training at Mission Home
Sister Taylor, Sister Hess, Sister Pilkington, Sister Snow

I tried straightening my hair this week and let's just say it was the biggest joke ever.  Never try to take curly hair and straighten it, especially in a humid place.  I don't need a flat iron to have frizzy hair, it does that just fine by itself.  I stepped outside and it all curled right back up.  But it definitely didn't curl up all cute-like.  The next day for the follow-up training I tried to curl it-with a curling iron.  Little bit better, but seriously, I'm pretty sure everyone just laughs at me for trying to do my hair at all (even though it's the second time I've tried it).  The first thing I'm doing when I get back home is doing my hair, but until then, my new favorite love is my headbands.  Can I just take a minute and acknowledge the fact that I've lost almost 10 pounds in 3 weeks?  Not that I had any fat to lose in the fist place, but if anyone wants a good diet, this is the place to do it:).  With all this food and how much I still eat, I don't know how that happened but I won't complain.  

I can't believe everyone is already getting ready to start school again!  AHH has it really already been that long?!  Crazy.  Well, tell everyone good luck on their first week!  I love youuuuu!!!!!!!!!!

Mahal na mahal,



Mount Samat
I know it's starting to get old that I start every letter for the week, with "I just love the Philippines" or "I'm still loving my mission," so I'll just skip that part because it's still true!  Obviously missions are hard.  My emails home obviously highlight the funnest, best, and most exciting parts of the week.  There are hard times, sad times, and times that quite frankly I don't want to be a missionary.  Sometimes obviously I am sad, there aren't a lot of people that like the missionaries here and people let us down a lot.  But a mission isn't supposed to be easy.  Life isn't meant to be easy.  Heavenly Father didn't send us to earth to relax and just have fun.  Life is meant for us to grow and to gain experience, to become like our Father.  Obviously it's not easy to become like Heavenly Father.  But He did promise us joy in this life and one of the main purposes of this life is to have joy.  My mission is hard.  I grow and stretch everyday to do things I don't think are possible.  But just like life, I have come to realize true joy that comes from the gospel, true joy comes from a good attitude and relying on Jesus Christ to pick me up when I just can't do it anymore.  As truthfully as I can say how hard this is, I can also truthfully say that I have realized true joy, happiness that can't come from having stuff or friends, but mind blowing, soul filling joy.  

With that said, I present my favorite stories, people, and happenings from the Philippines!

Mount Samat
So, P-day last week.  Mahal na mahal ko P-day.  After we emailed, we got to go to the Ukay store, which is the US equivalent to Salvation Army or second hand store.  And everyone at home knows that pretty much my entire existence relies and comes from second hand stores:)  So I was a pretty happy girl to not only get to go shopping, but at the ukay!  The second hand stores here ARE EVEN BETTER THAN IN THE STATES!!!!!!  Isn't that a crazy thought?!  All the clothes fit me because obviously the Filipinos are really small and it's all super cute.  I walked out of that store with probably way more than I should have bought.  And I walked out with a smile on my face the size of Texas.  I was a happy happy girl.  We go to the market to buy all our food (by market I mean tables set up under plastic with fruits, veggies, and still alive fish on them) at 6am because it's still fresh.  We clean our apartment, take naps, and do other various things that only sister missionaries would find entertaining.  Oh and wash clothes.  Haha it's kind of a joke.  It's all by hand in big basins in a dark room in the back of our apartment.  The even bigger joke is trying to get it to dry after you hang it up, because it's either always raining or humid.  With those kinds of things, I just laugh.  

Mount Samat
Which brings me to the weather.  Can I just say I have never been so amazed by the weather in my life.  I also realize what people are talking about when they say "the rainy season" in the Philippines.  Pretty much Heavenly Father decides to dump all his water in Heaven on the Philippines in 3 months.  Everyday, all day, all hours it is pouring rain.  Last week, it would rain for a couple hours a day, stop, and everything was fine.  I thought that was what they meant by rainy season here.  And then came this week.  NO sun ALL WEEK.  Just rain and thunderstorms.  And I have never seen storms like these.  It rains so hard it comes down sideways and drenches every part of my body.  It rains so hard that when I'm inside, you can't hear anything people say (it also doesn't help that all the roofs are metal).  The lightning turns the sky into a bright purple at night and orange in the day.  The thunder literally shakes that houses.  These last two days, the roads have all flooded, there are no more sidewalks that aren't under water, and people in our ward are starting to wake up with stuff floating in the water that has come into their house.  And everyone here keeps telling me that this is just the beginning.  All I have to say is it's a good thing I have my jelly sandals (more uses now than just looking cute).  Sister Tanielu and I were walking home on Saturday night, umbrella in one hand, purse and skirt in the other hand, wading in water up to our knees trying to get to 7-11 to get a doughnut (the only 7-11 in all of our zone is in our area:))  It was such a funny thing to see and experience.  This never happens in Utah, or anywhere in the US for that matter.  

Our toilet and shower aren't working because of the rain (not that they even worked really before then) so we flush the toilet with water from the kitchen sink and shower literally with a ladle and bucket right now.  Best experiences ever.  I love it all.  

Another investigator story for this week.  

Barecante Family:  So in the Philippines, multiple families live in one house, debah?  With this family, it's the Grandma and Grandpa that take care of all their grandkids while they their children work abroad (most people work in Dubai as maids).  So 2 really old people, 5 kids under 5 (one in the hospital).  No one can work and their kids can't send home money.  So this family literally has no money.  The grandma goes out everyday to the school to find money to get rice for a day.  We have been teaching their family for probably 2 months now but they are really stubborn and are slow to progress.  We went over to their house last week and the grandma told us she had a dream that Jesus Christ came to her during the Resurrection and that after, she knew the church was true.  They both have strong testimonies and a strong desire to be a part of the church.  In order to be baptized though, they have to come to church 4 times but because they literally have no money, they can't come.  We have no idea what to do to help them and we know that their situation is in Heavenly Father's hands.  They definitely need your prayers this week.

We have a baptism coming up next week, two kids (both 10 yrs old) that their families are less active and so we're hoping that by them getting baptized, it will reactivate their family.  Sister Tanielu and I found them when we were teaching their friend and I can't wait for them to be baptized!  

Funny story for the week:  On Tuesday night, we ate at a less-active member's house for dinner.  She lives literally in the middle of nowhere, it took us about 20 minutes of walking past lakes and more lakes along a tiny path (and because it was dark, I'm pretty sure I squished a couple of frogs).  This lady kind of reminds me of the blind witch lady off of Princess and the Frog.  She looks exactly like here and is a little crazy and old just like her.  So we're eating dinner and the ulam to go with the rice looks a little weird but obviously I take it anyway, glad for the food.  After a couple bites, I realized that I was eating something with eyeballs still in it, about the size of a quarter, that smelled awfully similar to frog.  When I realized that, it took literally all I had not to puke it up.  I couldn't keep eating it, there was no where to drop it, and I certainly couldn't just leave it on my plate.  Stealthy, I dumped it spoonful by spoonful into one of the pockets of my purse so no one would notice, zipped the pocket up, and pretended like I had finished my whole plate.  Yaaaaa... not one of my brightest ideas for sure, but I was desperate.  As we walked home, I emptied it little by little onto the ground so my trainer wouldn't notice either (why I didn't want her to know beats me).  Moral of the story- always carry a plastic bag with you.  

Have a good week, lots of love sent to you from the Philppines!

Inkgat po,



Ya, so that's pretty much my name now, or at least what everyone yells at me from the jeepneys, tricycles, and the sidewalks.  Joe.  I've realized it's just hard to be white.  And I'm over everyone staring at me haha.  It would be so much easier if only I could be a Filipino...  Hmmm okay joke'lang.  But only kind of:)

Right now, I'm sitting in a computer shop the size of my bedroom with the only light coming from the computer screen, missionaries all around me speaking very white Taglish (all of us congregate to write emails every week), it's raining harder than I've ever seen it rain in my life (and because it's so humid, my hair probably looks like it got electrocuted but I haven't looked in a mirror for awhile), and I am so happy.  So so happy.  Most days, I wake up, get ready and eat breakfast, have a couple hours of various studying, then go out to teach 8ish hours of lessons.  And then I get to sleep again- that's always the best part of the day.  Tis the life of a missionary.  The language is still coming, I don't see much progress day to day but when I look back from when I first got here, wow.  Ya my Tagalog is much better.  I'm to the point where my companion and I are able to switch off back and forth teaching principals in the lessons so we teach about half and half.  You would be impressed:)  
Sister Tanielu, Branch President's daughter, Sister Taylor
More fun things about the Philippines.  Common jobs to have are jeepney driver, construction worker, and clothes washer.  At that's pretty much everyone.  Everyone is always washing their clothes.  It is the longest process ever but they have the best best best laundry detergent and fabric softener ever.  I have never seen whiter clothes!  Hahaha I make the Philippines sound so exciting <sarcasm>.  Families are the most important thing to literally everyone and families all live together in a house.  I'm talking mom, dad, grandma and grandpa, aunties, ALL the cousins (seriously like 17 kids per house) and I'm sure there are people there that aren't related to each other.  I'm glad it's not like that in the states...  The funnest thing I learned about this place this week was how addicted everyone is to karaoke.  SO RANDOM!  For birthday parties, people rent karaoke machines.  All the mga barangi (kind of like American rec centers) have karaoke machines.  At night, you can hear like 6 or 7 different songs being sung at the same time and no one sings well.  It's pretty much the only connection I have to new music.  That and McDonalds.

OH MY GOODNESS, MCDONALDS!!!  Haha so the McDonald's here are like the nicest restaurants ever.  They have security guards standing in the front with big guns, people that open the doors for you, it's probably the cleanest place in all the Philippines (but my opinion of clean has been ridiculously distorted since coming here, so I could be wrong), people take your trash for you when you're done, like seriously, so funny how nice it is.  And they play great music.  We went on Saturday after emailing and I heard some songs that are new.  It was kind of an 'ah ha' moment when I realized that the world is still going on while I'm gone (and how out of the loop I'm really going to be).  And the best part.  THEY HAVE RICE AND SPAGHETTI AT MCDONALDS I KID YOU NOT.  I because I am a wannabe Filipino, I ordered rice at chicken from McDonalds.  MIND BLOWN!  And it was good.

So more food stuff.  Because that's my favorite.  I've had mango which is now my favorite fruit in the world (they don't taste at all like the ones in America, so so so much better), I've started to eat with my hands and burp after meals because that's the polite thing to do- all my wildest dreams have come true.  Look up a fruit called rambutan, it kind of looks like a puffer fish and tastes like a grape.  Oh and I accidentally ate a fish head.  Yaaaaaa...  Eyeball and all.  But I didn't realize I ate it until after it was in my stomach.  It's a good story.  And mom, the 5 lb. bag of chocolate you sent is gone.  Four sister missionaries and one week, I was a little surprised it lasted that long actually.  Usually we ate it for dinner right before bed:)  Great dinner, so nutritious.  And goodbye to good American chocolate for the next year and a half...

I love being here still.  I love you simply everyone lives and thinks, I love how regardless of situation these people are so happy, and I love coming home everyday exhausted and soaked and dirty and happy.  

You requested stories about some of our investigators, so I'll tell you about two of my favorites.  This isn't biased or anything though:)  Maybe just a little.

Argel Recio:  We found him my first day here in Pilar.  I can't remember how (I had to look back in my planner to even remember when we found him, because quite honestly, I don't remember those first couple of days much).  The first time we went to visit him, he wouldn't look at us, faced the other way, and only walked in front of us so he wouldn't have to make eye contact.  To say the least, he was so shy at first.  He is about 25, divorced, lives in a house that looks like the treehouse that Ben made in our backyard (made of wood, metal, and a tarp as a roof), and was looking to change his life.  He has a lot of problems drinking and especially smoking.  He loves the gospel though and I like him so much because I know how much Heavenly Father loves Argel.  Cheesy and true.  He came to church for the first time this Sunday and afterwards we got a text from him "thanks for bringing me the gospel, I liked church because I learn a lot and like feeling happy like this."  He still can't keep the word of wisdom because of his smoking problem but wants so badly to be baptized.  It would be awesome if you would pray for him to help him to stop smoking, because he can't do it on his own.
Sarah with Rambutan

Aoura:  She has cancer and is about to die.  She looks about 70 but is only around 60.  One of our recent converts (who is her next door neighbor, well if that's what you call the next room over as) told us about her last week.  We went over that night and found out that she lives by herself and takes care of her son's baby all day.  And washes clothes.  It's hard for her to do anything anymore because she is so weak but she has to because there's no one else there.  Our first visit, she cried and cried when she told us about when she prays to God and how she wants to be healed so badly.  She has so much faith in God and she already had an amazing testimony of Heavenly Father before we taught her.  She came to church this Sunday too and the branch president gave her a priesthood blessing.  Obviously I didn't really understand any of it, but I know Heavenly Father will take care of Aoura and that He guided us to her house to teach her.  Humility I've decided is the best way to come close to Christ.  I don't know what will happen though with her, we've only taught her twice.

Sarah's bathroom
So that's that.  I wish I had time to tell you about all our investigators and especially the members here.  FIlipinos are so funny (that's why I get along with them so well even though I don't speak much of the language) and are great jokesters.  You guys would just love them.  

Two things I'm kicking myself for now doing before I went on a mission.  First, working with the missionaries and going to their appointments with them.  A member can testify and teach in ways the missionaries can't, they bring a different spirit, and as a potential missionary, it would have taught me so so much about how to be a good missionary.  I've realized how crucial a member is because after the missionaries leave, the investigator is going to need friends in the church or they won't come.  BE FRIENDS WITH THE INVESTIGATORS THAT COME TO CHURCH!  It is so nerve racking to be in a new and unfamiliar place with no one that you know.  Investigators will be friends with anyone to, as long as they feel welcomed.  I wish I had been best friends with every new member is our ward (not that there were many in Utah... but still).  This is especially for Ben and Nate.  Working with the missionaries, going on splits with the missionaries (even though it sounds scary) will help them so much for their missions.  Seriously.  Do it.  

I know I'm going to run out of things to talk about soon, so any question you have, bring em on.  I'll try to entertain you.  Have a good week, eat American food for me (and I'll eat ketchup) and remember Heavenly Father!

Pinakamakapangyarihan, <--- ya, that's a actual word, score for the Tagalog langauge



Asian Invasion!!


Okay so actually, this place isn't really Asian at all.  They look a lot more like Hispanic people... well it depends on the area too... well anyway.  Yeah (that is a great way to start off my first week here...).  I feel like I belong here!  But boy do I stick out.  I hear all the time: tall, WHITE and WHITER, that I have a really long nose (all the filipinos have squished noses) and they all love to poke my skin and nose, especially the kids.  They also play with my hair and feel my legs because apparently, Filipinos grow no hair except for on their heads.  haha so many funny things that are so different about these people, but to say the least I stick out ridiculously.  But we also use it to our advantage!  We use it as an excuse to go over to the members and less actives houses because I'm new and they love to meet "the magandang American."  The best though is when we are walking down a street and every.single.head turns in our direction.  They like to try to talk to me in English and they are always so surprised when I start speaking back to them in Tagalog.  Their faces are priceless, it's hard to really put into words.  They also tell me a lot that I look like an Indian.  At least I'm not blonde, right?  Hahaha goodness.

Okay, so the food.  Crazy stuff they have here.  And all the those rumors people always talked about are true.  We have rice for every single meal, no matter what else we are having.  Just plain white rice.  For breakfast, we usually have rice and hot dogs with ketchup, OH THE KETCHUP.  So pretty sure everyone already knows my obsession with ketchup.  Like I already put it on everything.  And so they not only have ketchup here, but they put it on EVERYTHING too!  But it's kind of like sweet and sour sauce and ketchup combined.  We put it on rice, rolls, bread, fish, cheese, bananas.  You name it (well not that you know anything they really eat here anyway), they put ketchup on it.  So for lunch, more rice and sometimes bread and cheese on it.  And then for dinner, we eat at a members house or if not, we usually don't have time to eat when we get home (but I'm not usually hungry anyway).  I eat fish now.  Reading this over, I make the food sound really gross.  It's... different, but really good.  Especially when I see I see how much we eat and how well we eat compared to the people that live here.  Talk about sobrang humbling.  

Rice Fields
The first night we were here, we ate at the EQ president's house for dinner.  Preface for this story- we had just traveled for 30 hours with no food, gotten only 3 hours of sleep and a shower that morning, and I was nervous, scared, and pretty much had no idea who I was anymore.  So anyways, eating at their house (which is about as big as my bedroom- THEIR WHOLE HOUSE) and I shared a scripture which was so scary and when we sat down to eat, I felt suuuuuuper sick.  Not good.  There was no way though that I could not eat their food (they work for days so that they can feed the missionaries) and so I tried to eat a little bite of rice with some tang and started to puke.  I had to run outside and there I was puking up rice and tang into a gutter in front of their house (which is pretty much just an alleyway) with a dog peeing behind me and rain soaking me.  Most humbling experience ever.  And one of the best experiences for me to start my mission with.  I can't do this without Heavenly Father.  I literally can't survive this place without His guidance and His help with everything.  It helped me remember my purpose being here.  So that was great...  ya.  But I'm totally fine, don't worry.  I didn't have culture shock, it only took me about a day to get used to the water (which is the hardest part) and food so I'm doing splendidly! 

More new things- the humidity is crazy.  It's like the Caribbean x3 but the funniest part is I love it.  You always feel really sticky and I feel like Sandy in Spongebob that lives underwater because you always feel wet here.  Sometimes literally because it's always raining, but even if it's not, it feels like it.  But no more using lotion, chapstick, conditioner because nothing ever get dry:)  I LOVE HUMIDITY!  And it's rainy season right now too!  We haven't had any floods yet because the season is just starting but it rains for probably half the day.  And umbrellas don't do anything haha.  I love rain too.  I just love it here, can you tell?

MY NEW COMPANION!  She pretty much just is perfect.  Sister Tanielu is Samoan, 26 years old, so good at Tagalog the people here think she's Filipina, only has five weeks until she goes home (and she thinks that I'll be training after she leaves HA), and is the sister training leader for our zone.  Ya, the greatest sister ever.  And she rocks at teaching.  I have already learned so much about missionary work from her.  She makes me learn all the principals in the lessons so that now, we switch off each teaching a principal in our lessons.  Well usually, I explain with the little Tagalog I know, and then she elaborates haha.  Thankfully she lets me speak English at home, but I try to use Tagalog everywhere else and then she corrects me when I'm wrong (which is a lot).  I was SO SO blessed with a good trainer.  Heavenly Father knew what help I needed for sure.  

And my favorite part of the Philippines so far.  THE PEOPLE!  WOW!!!!  They are so so so nice.  Everyone talks to us, everyone loves to have the missionaries over to talk, they love to work with the missionaries (especially the YW in the church because they all want to go on missions), and they always let the missionaries come teach, even if they aren't interested.  I was blown away the first couple of days.  They are so humble and happy and... just the greatest.  And short.  But the conditions here are also very very third world (it's like Bolivia and The Other Side of Heaven movie combined).  Hopefully I can send pictures next week because nothing I say could give it justice.  I also think you have to be here to really feel and experience it.  

Right now we have a billion investigators, I still haven't even met them all yet and we teach at least 6 lessons a day.  Yesterday we had 6 investigators at church that have a baptismal date set for the end of August.  It's crazy.  And that isn't even a lot of investigators.  Our district leader had 26 investigators come to church with them yesterday.  Here in the Philippines, many of our investigators are kids.  They are the best at always coming to church, reading the BofM, praying.  They have so much faith and are so Christlike.  A lot of kids here live alone because their families work abroad and so a lot of times there are like 10 kids living all together and the oldest takes care of them all.  Teaching them is my favorite.  They also speak in Tagalog that I can understand.  And they also laugh a lot at my Tagalog.  I just love our investigators.  They are great.  The only hard thing about working here is everybody is always busy pretty much just trying to survive.  They never have time to read everyday from the BofM and always forget to pray.  Many times they can't come to church because they so so much to do and so many people to take care of.  That's the biggest challenge we have here.  And we have as many less active members as new investigators for that reason.  It easy to get discouraged because you want them to do the things they need for baptism so badly because you know how much it will bless their life, but they just don't and they have their agency to choose.  Ayoslang though.  Pray for them pamilya ko!

Sorry, this is a really long email and hopefully it makes sense and is fun to read.  This is all normal now for me, so I don't know what is cool to know.  As far as letters go, we get mail every 6 weeks-ish and it takes a couple of weeks to get here.  And it's sketchy.  But DearElders work really well and we get those fast, so those are probably the best now.  Mom- Sis. Hess's mom is pro at DearElder so ask her all about it, I don't really know how that works.  I get emails but it's hard to reply, so I'll probably still just keep sending letters for those...  Hindi ko alam, I'm still trying to figure out how it all works.  But DearElders rock.  For packages, it takes like 3 months for them to get here.  You have to tape them A TON so that bugs and people don't get into them and put pictures of Jesus on the outside all over.  

Funny story for the week:  Sunday while Sis Tanielu and I were walking to church, I saw two older white people come around the corner in front of us.  Because everyone is so dark skinned here and there are no such thing as white people that live here (besides the missionaries), it was the strangest thing to see an actual white person.  I stared and stared and was so confused by them (I have forgotten that I'm white haha).  They saw us and waited for us to catch up.  I started asking them questions about where they were from and where they lived and such.  The old man looked really confused by me but I thought it was because they couldn't understand my bad Tagalog (that's how it usually is).  Come to find out, they are the senior couple for our area.  They speak wala Tagalog and I was asking them all these questions in Tagalog that they didn't understand.  I didn't even realize I was talking it Tagalog.  Yep.  It was a great first impression <sarcasm>.  

Well, I still love you soooooo much and wish so badly you could all see this beautiful country and these amazing, amazing people.  I know you would just absolutely love them.  I pray for all of you everyday and hope that your days are fantastic and sparkly(?). hahaha