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.
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