OH MY GOODNESS FAMILY, THIS PLACE ROCKS!!!!!
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.
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