Flooding in the Streets
So sad, I have less and less to say each week and everything I do is becoming more and more normal I don't really know what to write that will fascinate you or top any of my other stories.  SO, here's some stuff that happened this week and then a couple GREAT pictures <exciting>.

So first, we had another typhoon.  I LOVE STORMS IN THE PHILIPPINES!  Even when we have to walk in water up to our calves that has floating diapers (haha) and no one is home.  Only in the Philippines!  Lots and lots of rain, thankfully the storm went over us pretty fast, so we just got a lot of rain for a long time.  This storm wasn't quite as bad as the last one but there was way more flooding.  I think it all came from the river that starts in Pilar (my area).  I think I sent a quick picture last week, but literally every building flooded, every house, seriously lahat.  Even the banks in Balanga, which was pretty funny.  One of our areas (the same place with the dead dog skeleton) had flooding up to their shoulders inside their house, I felt so bad because when it floods, they can't do anything to stop it and they can't go anywhere so they sit on the top of their houses with all the stuff they can carry up there and then just wait until the flood is gone.  It's especially hard not being to do anything really to help them.  Especially when the only thing is to say sorry and then ask to teach them ha.  Also, it was so cold I had goosebumps and wore a sweater all week.  The twisted part of that was that it was probably still like 75 degrees.  Oh the twisted sense of weather I'm going to have when I get back... in December too.

Recent Converts-Leona and Janessa
My area, Pilar, I don't think I've ever told you much about it, and I have room, so, great!  I LOVE MY AREA!  Pilar is in the middle of a couple really big cities and close to everything but Pilar specifically is kind of in between- lots of people and cars and stuff happening (mostly karaoke) but not really any big buildings or major stuff.  It's the perfect in between.  Everything is based on a main highway that runs all the way though Pilar (they call it a highway put it's probably only the size of our neighborhood street with as many cars as I-15) and most the buildings are right off the highway.  Or in the middle of rice field.  And the ones in the middle of rice fields are just funny.  Overall, Pilar is the size of Murray at home, I have no idea how many people, but it's not too big.  But again, none of the provinces here are super big.  The branch here is sooooo awesome.  (Ya, branch, ha, didn't know what that meant before I got here.  Now, what does ward mean??).  The leaders are some of the best in the whole mission (says all the missionaries and other leaders) and really know how to do things right.  I'm starting to actually make friends in the ward now too!  I know people AND I know how to talk to them finally haha!  Ya, I love it here.  Now watch me be transferred.

Update on the Barecante family (remember them?  No money, had a dream, wants soooo bad to baptized but doesn't have money for church).  Anyway, we took them to church Sunday and they had an interview with the branch president.  It was really long.  I got really worried.  Turns out they hadn't eaten for two days and literally no more money.  Great, just what we needed, even more problems, how are they going to live.  BUT the branch is going to help them from the fast offering funds!  SO they went home that day with food and money for the next little bit, and a job interview.  They will be so taken care of by the branch and we got the okay to keep teaching them.  The branch here has really grown to love them and everyone has become so invested in them  I have become so grateful for church funds like that that really help people.  AND NOW THEY HAVE A BAPTISM DATE!!!!  I AM SO EXCITED!! BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN SO LONG!!!!!  Hopefully I'm here to see it, we'll see if I get transferred (because I'll be done with my training).  Anyway, so so awesome!

Some more things about food (these are actually really awesome things).  Turns out I've been eating a lot more crazy things than I thought.  My policy has always just been to take it and eat it and don't ask questions about what it is.  But my new companion always loves to know what the food is we're eating (for good and for bad).  So, for awhile now actually, I've realized I've been eating things like liver, quail eggs, old fermented fish eggs (that's a story of it's own), and ube (kind of like a potato, but purple).  And turns out all of them are good!  Well, except the fermented fish.  But, moving on.  I'm pretty impressed with myself!  But, I'll have to admit, I still don't particularly like fish. 

AND best part of the week ever!  I ate BALUT!!!  Ha, remember researching it all the time before I left?  It pretty much is a duck egg that sat in the sun and fermented for awhile and then they boil the eggs for a really long time.  Sounds pretty normal.  Oh ya, and they're fertilized so they have a giant baby duck inside, not just the yellow juice stuff haha.  On Monday night, we went over to the branch president's house for FHE and dinner.  He has wanted us to eat balut for so so long and I had always objected because it's my favorite animal (of course, how am I supposed to eat my favorite animal?!).  But that night he brought it instead (joker siya talaga) and I got stuck and trapped into eating a baby duck.  Thankfully it didn't have its' beak or feather yet.  But, yes, I ATE IT:)  And it wasn't that bad:)  Who's the coolest in the family now (cough me cough)?!
Funny story: I'm starting to realize that pretty much all my emails are just one giant funny story, it's kind becoming a trend, but nevertheless, I'll continue.  With a picture of a cat.  Can I just say when I saw this little orange baby kitty, in the middle of the jungle, just hanging out on a pile of moss and cinder blocks, I just about freaked out.  Sooooooooo cuteeee!  Of course I took a picture.  And I will be a witness that even in the Philippines, there exists cute little cats.  In the jungle.  That I take a picture of:)

Yes.  That's all.  It's always a good time being a missionary in the Philippines.




Sister Taylor & Sister Tanielu
So, lots of crazy stuff this week.  First, no I don't have to train!!!  Which made me so so so happy.  I am NOT ready yet.
 But it did mean getting a new companion and taking the lead (where let's be honest, these kind of things I just have to joke about).  Still more crazy apartment stuff happening, crazy Filipinos to teach, but you know, only in the Philippines!

The new companion: Sister Palmer.  AMERICAN!!!!  Yes, there are now two young American little girls walking the streets where no one has ever seen Americans before.  It's great!  She's been here 10 months and technically is my follow up trainer/ senior companion.  She's funny and has lots of great ideas for what we can do for our area.  And I get to still speak English.

Sister Taylor & Sister Palmer
On Wednesday, I got to wait at the bus station (literally a cement block) for about 8 hours with the zone leaders while she came from all the way from the opposite side of the mission (the most north in Santa Cruz), and let's just say, when you put two zone leaders and a bored girl (me) with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no other people to talk to, we became pretty creative.  Lots of fun (awkward elders ROCK! They really do.)  We got to watch Discovery Channel for a little bit (IN ENGLISH, DOES THAT EVER HAPPEN???!!!) and I saw a commercial for America's worst tattoos on TLC that looked ridiculously fascinating ahaha.  Record it for me?:)  Also (this one is for Nate and Ben) THEY HAVE ADVENTURE TIME IN TAGALOG HERE!!  We watched it for a little bit and I died at the way they're voices all sounded.  Look it up on YouTube, and please think it's just as funny.  It always kills me the things that are popular in the Philippines that come from the US.  Also, this is a first for me, I ate a hamburger and ice cream for breakfast that day (it was literally the only food).  Food like that just tastes different (not in a good way) when it's fast food and 7 in the morning.  

And even crazier change than that (that may be a slight overreaction), my hair is permanently straight!
Sister Taylor with Straight Hair
 Apparently it's the big thing that all the Filipinos do (they're pretty hair is not natural, of course) but no more curl for Sarah Taylor... for about 6 months.  It's strange having normal people hair now.  I get out of the shower, brush my hair, and it just dries STRAIGHT!  Is this what it feels like to be a normal person?

The baptism that almost didn't happen:
Sister Taylor & Sister Palmer
And yes, as the title states, we had a baptism.  And it literally almost didn't happen.  Because Sister Tanielu left, I was left to plan the baptism.  Ha.  I'm the greenie, right?  For the baptism on Saturday, until 10pm Friday night, we had no one to preside, speak, give prayers, or even baptize her.  EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE PHILIPPINES WAS BUSY!  How does that happen?  These people always have time.  But anyway, we were about 5 minutes from cancelling it when the district president said he would come and take care of the priesthood people that needed to be there.  Okay, cool, all good.  Then we went to pick up the girl for her baptism and she wasn't there.  After 20 minutes, we finally got her to the church and then found out that she was missing school for her baptism and couldn't stay very long.  When she was baptized, they had to do it 3 times and they accidentally cut her nose in the process.  But hey, the baptism was done and smooth sailing, right?  No.  The next day (Sunday) we picked her up for church because she was going to be confirmed and she was sitting the road playing with her friends and had forgotten.  She then said she couldn't go because her dad was making her to laundry (that's why she was playing with her friends...?) and he would be too mad if she went to church.  She told us she would just be baptized again.  Literally this is a missionary's WORST NIGHTMARE.  Long story short, we asked her (drunk) dad for permission, rushed her to the church (10 minutes late and in a soaking wet t-shirt and mickey mouse shorts), she was confirmed, bore her testimony (which made up for all the mistakes) and then ran home.  And to top it all off, this whole weekend in rained cats and dogs.  We probably could have just made her stand outside to be baptized.  No font needed.  BUT WE DID IT!  And it happened!  And when all is said and done, she was so so happy.  

Not much else than that happened this week (which is fine by me), I'm still figuring out what it's like to be a missionary and act like a FIlipina:)  
Sister Snow, Sister Taylor, and Sister Palmer

Funny story for the week:  While we spent 8 hours at a bus stop together, I got to know one of the zone leaders really well.  At one point in the conversation, I told him I grew up in Colorado (I may have also told him I like cats, math, my hobby is shopping, and I'm going to live in New York as a financial nerd).  His response- "Of course!  I guessed you would have lived there based on your... eccentric clothes... as a missionary."  So, I am now proudly aware (well, I kind of was already) that even as a missionary, even in the Philippines (where everyone in eccentric), I have crazy cool clothes.  Bam.  

Love you all!!!
Galing sa pinakamagandang tao sa buong mundo (joke lang:)),




Ya, here we go again.  Welcome to the hastily written email by Sarah Taylor for you, my lovely family! 

There's something about the food here that is just so fun to talk about.  Probably my favorite thing to talk about.  So this week I was in charge of all the cooking for us 4 sisters in our apartment.  Which to say the least, it's an honor and a burden at the same time.  It was my first time buying everything at the market, I was so proud of my skills with the people, buying all this awesome Filipino food (especially being a white person) and being able to talk to the people.  Markets are just so different here, that seriously, coming out alive (and with food even!) is an awesome accomplishment.  Gold star on my forehead for that day:).  Then I realized that I had to find ways to cook this food.  We all know I struggle cooking in the US let alone in some crazy country where they don't believe in knives, ovens, and pans.  HA so pretty much everyday was "let's just experiment."  I made french toast, tried tacos (fail), Hawaiian haystacks (a little better because it involves rice), and MOM YOU WOULD BE SO PROUD OF ME!  I learned how to skin and clean fish and chicken even though it is soooo nasty- because in the Philippines all the meat is soooo f.r.e.s.h.  So ya, another gold star for that.  Also, I learned to make mango float!  Mom, please talk to Sister Findley about making this because when I get home, it's all I'm eating.  It's cake with mango's, condensed milk, and graham cracker stuff all in layers, you will dieeeeeee.  Except I'm sure the mango's at home are nothing like the mango's here.  Ha wanna-be's:) 
I tried halo-halo too!  I remember looking up the different foods in the Philippines before I got here at the coolest looking dessert was halo-halo.  Ever since I got here I've been looking and asking around for where the best place is to buy it and I finally had it on Wednesday!!!!  So basically, the word halo means a mix or everything and so literally that's what this dessert is.  Look it up on the Internet sometime.  It has ube ice cream, beans, gelatin, flan, rice, rice flakes, condensed milk, some random red squishy stuff, shaved ice, and tofu.  Haha doesn't that sound crazy?  To be honest, it wasn't as good as I thought it would be- beans in a dessert mixed with ice cream is just not okay.  But check it off the list, more Filipino culture! 

So, last week I mentioned we had to move.  We found an apartment next door to the district president (equivalent to a stake president in the states) and it is pretty small but so much more safe.  We were having a lot of problems at our old apartment with creepy guys (don't freak out though please, it's fine now) and so we have a couple gates here at our new apartment and all the president's dogs to guard us:).  The outside of the house is teal colored with darker blue stripes around it:)  Inside the walls are bright orange, haha oh the Filipino's.  We cleaned our old apartment, moved everything out, cleaned our new apartment, and moved everything in all on Tuesday.  It was the worst.  And there is still a lot of remodeling that has to be done in our new apartment (like it doesn't have floors or a toilet seat) so all our furniture is outside until probably next week still.  I'm pretty sure that I'll just be living the rest of my transfer here from a suitcase (literally) if the remodeling takes as long as they say it will.  Adventure, right?  But it's the greatest living right next door to your best friends:)

Along with a new apartment this week will be coming a new companion on Wednesday.  Sister Tanielu left yesterday afternoon after church and wow, so so hard.  She was such a nice, patient, and perfect missionary, seriously so good at everything.  I'll definitely miss her.  Now that I don't have a companion (I'm on splits with the other sisters in our apartment until Wednesday) I feel sooo lost and alone in our area.  It's hard now because even though I've only been here a little tiny bit of time, I realized how much I'm going to have to lead my new companion even though I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.  It's been a struggle.  Until yesterday, I thought that I could probably do it and be fine.  Now, we're just going to take it day by day.  But I'm still here!  I'm still being a missionary! 

The River we cross to get to one of the Villages
Last week on one of the last days Sister Tanielu was here, we went to a part of our area that that's suuuuuper far away (takes about 20 minutes on a tricycle or jeepney) and literally the middle of nowhere.  In order to get to the village, we had to hike up our skirts, take off our shoes, and cross a river up to our knees (probably 40-ish feet wide).  Then we went though a forest for a couple minutes on a tiny path (palm trees, cows, frogs, and random unknown insects).  It is what I thought the whole Philippines would be like.  The houses there were all made from palm fronds and little huts like you see in the movies.  SOOOO COOL!  They were all so nice, so happy, the only problem is that because they are all so far away from the church, none of them are able to come to church on Sunday.  I really like these people though.  And I felt like a jungle explorer with some crazy indigenous people, which is great added bonus:)

Update on one of our investigators- remember the Barecante family with all the financial problems?  Well, they started coming to church and absolutely love it (we pay for them to get there).  It's still really hard for them to be there with so many things they still have to do at home, but I think they are starting to see the blessings.  They are supposed to be baptized the end of this month, they are so ready.  Then yesterday we went to go pick them up for church and Sister Barecante was super sick, had just come home from the hospital, and so now everything is kind of stopped.  She doesn't have any medicine (can't afford to get it or go to the doctor again) so yet again, they're in a hard situation.  Satan is definitely working hard on them, I feel so bad because they just encounter problem after problem and I can't help them with any of it.  So, just keep praying for them.

Now, to answer some of dad's questions:
We have zone leaders (mom- remember Elder Fonsbeck?  He was one of our ZL, but he got transferred last week so not anymore), district leaders, and sister training leaders (girl equivalent of zone leader).  The leaders in our zone are pretty awesome, but transfers are this week, so we'll see if they're fun anymore (joke'lang- maybe).  For reporting our statistics for the week, we just text the STL's and DL's.  Thankfully we don't have to call them.  Sometimes they call to see how things are going but it's pretty random. For statistics, we have to report investigators baptized, investigators going to be baptized, investigators that came to church, lessons taught with a member present, progressing investigators, referrals, and total church attendance.  I'm pretty sure those stats are the same no matter where you are.  Here in our mission, President focuses so much on lessons taught with members present and referrals.  Honestly, stats really annoy me and I try not to focus on them. 
Moving in Pajamas
For my routine in the morning, most our clothes just hang on the clothesline all week because it either takes them that long to dry or I'm too lazy to bring them inside and fold them all.  We're always doing laundry.  Also when we do laundry, all these frogs come out of nowhere are sit under the counter where we wash clothes.  I have no idea why.  I sit in front of a fan during personal study and dry my hair while I read my scriptures (at first I tried to eat breakfast too, but food got all over my scriptures and hair because of the fan ahah), and then we have language study and then usually I write letters or clean until we start proselyting at 2pm.
Bug stories: There are so so so many.  But just because I deal with bugs now does not mean I am any less scared of them.  I've squished cockroaches a lot, one time there was one hiding in my shoe when I put it on and it ran out and over my foot as I was putting it on.  Ya so many

Funny story: So when we were moving on Tuesday, I spent the whole day in my pajamas (picture attached) and didn't match my clothes just to be funny.  I thought it wouldn't matter because we were just moving but in the afternoon, the mission president, assistant's to the president, our zone leaders, district leaders, and district president all came to help us move.  So here I am, the brand new missionary, greeting all these leaders in my dirty pajamas.  So so awkward and so funny.  All of them now won't let me forget it.  Let's just say hopefully that's not what the mission president remembers about me. 

Well, love you all!  Have a great week!




I didn't think those words would ever be allowed to come out of my mouth in September.  But ONLY in the Philippines!  This week, the Christmas celebrations have officially started!  People here looooooove Christmas, it's like they know the one true desire of my heart:)  We walked out of our apartment yesterday to Christmas karaoke songs and Christmas lights on the houses.  In district meeting on Tuesday I was finally allowed to request to sing a Christmas song, so I will just announce it to everybody that on August 27, 2013, we began Christmas in the Philippines.  Also, just like Christmas time in Utah, I got a cold.  Don't ask me how that happens when there is 90% humidity and never drops below 75 degrees...  

The Tricycles we use to get Around
Things are starting to become normal here in the Philippines.  I'm sure I'll look back at some of the things I wrote and wonder why I ever thought that was abnormal.  Like dog in the street.... Joke'lang, hopefully that's not a normal occurrence.  So my trainer is a sister training leader for our zone, which means she's really good at being a missionary and is then in charge of all the sister missionaries in our zone.  But anyway, because of that (and because she goes home next week) we've had multiple exchanges (and cue the death march).  Pretty much that means that my companion leaves me for a day and I get a companion that I've never met before and I lead our area (where we go, who we visit, you know the like).  This includes being good at knowing my directions.  Ya, that's  a joke.  But nonetheless, it was fun.  I remembered where I was going for the most part, taught good lessons, and made a new Filipino friend that's not a kid (because let's face it, the kids only like me because I have candy and the adults only like me because I'm white:))  It was definitely one of those moments that I stepped back and realized how much I've grown.  I'm able to speak to these random short people and carry a conversation, I'm starting to make lots of friends and say hi to people on the street (I already know I'll be leaving my heart in Pilar), and I'm walking around in an island, in the middle of nowhere, but somehow, I know where I'm going.  

Sister Tanielu, Janessa, Romwill, Sister Taylor
OUR BAPTISM WAS YESTERDAY!  Monumental moment in the life of a missionary.  I mentioned it a little bit last week (I think).  Romwill and Janessa who are 9 years old:)  We found them through... I can't remember how we found them but it was cool I remember.  As we taught them and they prayed, read the Book of Mormon, and came to church, it was amazing to see the change in these little kids.  I remember asking them why they read they prayed and did all the things we asked them and Janessa said "It makes me so happy and I like praying."  Well in Tagalog.  But I was just so amazed that little kids can have this much faith and testimony.  Will and Alice are the same age as them and let's be honest, they don't read the Book of Mormon or know why the priesthood is important.  But these people were prepared for the gospel.  Yesterday they were so nervous, but they came out of that water (by the way our baptismal font is a little bathtub square-looking thing outside surrounded by palm trees)  and wow.  I realized how eternal our work is.  These two people can live with Heavenly Father again, they can be married in the temple, they can serve missions.  "How great will be your joy if you bring one soul unto me."  I literally can't explain it.  AMAZING.

Sister Taylor with one of my Favorite Member Families
Before the baptism, in the morning we woke up to water all over our floor.  Our sink had broken and the water had gone everywhere all night.  So now, our toilet is broken, our sink is broken, sometimes we have no water, and then our landlord came to us and told us our contract was expired that day and we needed to move by tomorrow.  HA, there was not much to do but laugh (it was about 7 in the morning) and walk over to the branch president's house in our pajamas to ask what to do.  Long story short, we can stay in our apartment until today (Monday), we deal with the broken sink and toilet until then, and we think we found a new apartment next to our branch president's house.  So we'll spend tomorrow cleaning it and moving and such.  For the life of a missionary, something like this happening is the equivalent of the world ending.  Missionary life is the same everyday.  Everything is scheduled at the same time, we study everyday, teach everyday, and then sleep.  So It was SO SO exciting to have something different like this happen (crazy adventure), so it was great.  And we get to live next door now to my best friend ever!!!  YES!

I really have no problems with eating and such (well we already know that), the way Filipinos eat is just different haha.  To fully explain- we have a dinner appointment every.single.day.  That happens only in the Philippines.  And as SIster Findley can tell you, Filipino dinners are huge.  And we have 3 lunch appointments.  The same this last week.  So, I promise, no problem.  It's a good thing I won't be coming home fat (knock on wood and cross my fingers).

So, I wrap up another week here in the Philippines.  It's such a great life here.  Thanks for keeping me updated with everything and until next time...