Well, it's been a great month to remember, one that definitely goes in the Sister Taylor history books as one of the best Christmas's and best time so far on the mission.  I'm not quite done partying it up for Christmas and New Year's, so I'll fill you in on all that next week.  

Crossing the river with the youth that worked with us
 (kids of sister dejesus)
But I did get to CELEBRATE MY BIRTHDAY this week and we'll just say, Filipinos definitely know how to PARTY.  I work up at6:30 in the morning to a whole bunch of the branch members (the Dejesus family planned it all) outside our gate singing happy birthday (of course in the cute high pitched filipino way), holding a giant painted sign and a real live, CHOCOLATE cake.  ahhhhhhhh chocolate!  It was the cutest and most thoughtful way to start my birthday, even if I had just woken up and didn't realize understand what was happening at first:).  We then opened all my birthday presents from my package (THANK YOU) and decorated.  But it doesn't even stop there (I'm not kidding you, I picked the best day to be born).  After we spent a couple hours out teaching, we got to go our branch Christmas PARTY/birthday PARTY.  And here again I repeat, Filipinos know how to PARTY. 

My first week as a now semi-old missionary was spent looking for an apartment...  Ya, I didn't realize that that was one of the qualifications when you become a missionary, but apparently, it became one as soon as I decided I wanted to open an area.  President came down last week to Pilar for interviews and we talked forever about making Alauli an open area and then talked with the branch president about opening a branch, and even building a chapel.  It was my greatest dream come true.  They're going to make a NEW BRANCH here after we open Alauli for the new missionaries.  Now, here's the problem.  We have to find an apartment for them first.  And do you know how hard it is to find an open apartment for missionaries in the middle of the rice field?  SO HARD.  We're still in the looking process.  But all this stuff that I've talked about for months and months is actually going to happen!  ...as long as I don't get transferred... (cough cough president querido)

I bought a giant pan to cook
Filipino foods when i come home!!!!!!
Alauli is still the baby and pride and joy of my mission so far.  We've got a bunch of baptism's out there this month (hopefully).  My favorite and first investigator we found the very first time we went to Alauli was the Hernandez family.  Best miracle of my life finding them.  We accidentally walked in on the funeral of their baby one day when it was pouring rain outside.  We were walking down the main street of Alauli for the first time and there absolutely noooo people outside.  People here just sleep when it rains.  We stopped to buy some snacks from a tindahan and all the sudden this old guy runs out from the house behind and starts asking us what ward we're from, who's our bishop, where the chapel is in Pilar.  Long story short, he came to Pilar for a day for the funeral of his daughter in law (who turned out to be the Hernandez family) and is a bishop in the San Pablo misison.  He invited us to the funeral and introduced us to all 30 members of his family (where none of them are members) that were there for the funeral and lived in Alauli.  All of those people are progressing investigators now.  The Hernandez family will be baptized this month and we have gone through so much together.  Death of their kids, no work, their aunt disowning them because they were listening to the mormons, and finally gaining a testimony enough to choose to be baptized.  I love this family so much and love seeing what they are doing to be able to be baptized.  Also their kids are adooooooorable.

Yesterday I ended up talking in sacrament meeting (and was informed as the branch president was reading off the program from the pupit...), taught gospel doctrines class (try teaching the gathering of the 12 tribes of israel in the last days to a whole bunch of non member investigators....yaaa), and then lead music in the rest of the classes.  Being in a branch when no one comes to church rocks when your'e a missionary.

Funny story: We were at the church on Saturday waiting for our baptism to start and there was a cute little gecko running across the floor of the chapel (is it weird that that is so normal here?) and I wanted to catch it and take a picture for WIll and Ben.  So I'm running around our tiny little chapel chasing a gecko and got the brilliant idea to stop it with a hymnbook so it wouldn't run.  While I was running around (these geckos are way fast), I accidentally dropped the hymnbook right on the gecko's head and beheaded the poor little guy mid-run.  So just so you know Ben and Will, I tried really hard to get a picture of a gecko but all I got was gecko guts of my skirt and another funny story for the week:)

Amazed that the year is already over, sad to see it go but excited for the next one.  We had a week full of baptism's, meetings, and celebrating.  I'm definitely going out of 2013 and into 2014 with a bang.  Missionary style.