So, it turns out we have a mission wide activity on Monday (we achieved the high mission standard of excellence) and the whole mission will go to Olongapo city for lots of crazy fun stuff!  And then we got a text about 30min ago telling us to write you because there won't be any time on Monday.  Right now. soooo...o....ooo.

i'm bringing the concept of heart
attacking to the philippines
My mind's gone a little blank.  Usually at this time of night (ya, it's 8pm here right now) we're in the middle of a lesson (usually close to our apartment because it's dark) or walking home from a long, long way.  At this point, I usually have my bag full of now empty candy wrappers, no more BofM's in it, and some random assorted fruits making my bag all dirty and tropical smelling:).  

I went to Mt. Samat for the 4th time this last week.  No matter how many times I go back, the giant cross there is still a giant cross.  But we got free McDonald's out of it (thank you senior couples) so I got a full stomach out of it (and a trip to the city!).  I've emailed pictures from each time I've been up, funny to see the difference in all the pictures.  The last one is my favs.

My trainer from when i was new
(she's home now!)
and the other american in our house
Update on my chocolate beans- we dried the beans inside (they smell just like dark chocolate!!!!), unshelled them, and crushed them into little pieces with a mug (that's the FIlipino style of resourceful) and then I tried heating them up/melting them in the microwave.  Turns out real coco beans don't melt...  So then we added canned milk and tried it again.  Still didn't melt.  So we just ate it.  DOn't eat raw coco beans.  The smell is a total lie.  Not that you're planning on finding coco beans in Utah anytime soon...

And now there's a couple bugs running across my computer screen
 ---- - --   ---- -- ---- - - -  --  ------

After district meeting on Tuesday, someone told us there was a really good, hidden ice cream place next to the church.  All the sisters in our zone went to scope it out.  I'm thinking we're going to get a couple of cute scoops of ice cream, fun colors and flavors.  We get there, and 15 min later walk out with a gallon bucket of coconut and cheese ice cream.  That was the only option.  It turns out cheese and coconut ice cream isn't too bad. 

our area is pretty ugly...but here's a
picture of the area right next to ours)
And to sum up our week, we had a baptism earlier with some of the investigators we met right after I got here to Mandama.  They accepted the gospel so fast, and I was so excited for this afternoon.  Right before they were baptized, I was standing outside the door to go to the font with Jellin and JhayKhim.  JhayKhim goes in first, and we wait right outside the door for him.  Me and Jellin put our ears up to the door to hear all that was going to happen.  It was such a great sound, hearing the echo of the baptismal prayer, water hitting the sides of the font as he was baptized, and the big grin that appeared as he walked out the door, soaking wet.  And to do it all over again with Jellin.  Sitting there, at the door, just hearing it all happen, put a really big smile on my (now really tan) face.

Funny Story: While we were in Balanga sending letters last week for P-day, I was trying to send a letter to El Salvador.  Post offices in the Philippines are not like in the states.  They just struggle.  I always wonder how my letters manage to make it to the states.  Anyways, I put the letter on the counter, the lady takes it, squints at it, and then asks me where El Salvador is.  K, cooooool........  Best question ever.  I then got to teach a little geography at the post office.




 It's been a very typical, Filipino week.  Aside from the normal language stuff and cooking stuff, I got to experience quite the #onlyinthephilippines (do hashtags even still exist?).
Our zone conference this week was centered on cleaning out our kitchen pipes often so that the rice doesn't get clogged every week and so we aren't calling the senior couple all the time to come unclog our pipes. #Riceinthepipes
going to a...meeting!
missionary life is sooooo exciting

We came home from work on one ridiculously hot day and I went straight to the floor, turned the fans all on me, and layed down in the entryway for a good while.  The only thing that got me up and moving was the realization that there were chocolate no-bake cookies we had made earlier in the fridge.  And they were so calling my name. #Iworkforcookies
I woke up last morning, turned around and found a big, whiny cat staring at me through our bedroom window.  I thought is was a dream until I realized the window I was banging on was an actual window and not just my dreams.  She climbed though the window bars of the kitchen (there's no glass) and was just hanging out in our house. #Catsinterruptmybeautysleep 

Just adding to the awesome list of experiences that I'll miss...someday:).  But it totally makes up for the awesome missionary life.

letter to my cool filipino friend.
 I could not have done this 3 months ago!
This week was our zone conference too.  President and his wife came to give us some fun little instruction (I love that couple, everything is just cute in the Philippines) and learned a lot (I'll spare the drab missionary-talk details).  He interviewed us all, recorded the foreigners and our testimonies (of course in Tagalog) and it's on Facebook if you can find it (and he said he uploaded mine to the missionary national committee page too?), but hunt it down for me. 

Transfers are coming up again, every time I guess what will happen to me, I'm ALWAYS so wrong so I'm not making any guesses.  But there's bound to be one of us transferring in our companionship.  We have another baptism this week (collecting the totals for the month) and lots of potential for next month.  This area is exploding and I am riding on the edge of it.  Kind of like when you ride a cow....haha #anotherfilipinojoke

my favorite old guy ever.
he's a member, always works with us,
and has the coolest stories ever
Funny story: I'll just put it out there, there are a ton of gays and lesbians here in the Philippines.  But they wear it loud and proud and it's the complete normal here.  We go up to ask girl (who's really a boy) (they are really good at doing their make-up) where someone's house is.  Sister Villaviles goes to meet them and stumbles at the very beginning, taking a good 30 seconds to figure out to call her "Sister", or "Brother".  She flips from brother, to sister, and back to brother, (there's no other conversation at this point) and then we finally manage to walk away because I am trying SO hard not to laugh behind her.  She gave it her best try.




fruit season is here, and members are starting
 to send us home  with ALL sorts of fruit! That
big stick thing is sugar cane!
Well, in the wonderful life of the missionary Sister Taylor, I bought this really awesome lipstick that's white but turns pink (even in the Philippines I can't avoid lipstick).  But the missionary Sister Taylor doesn't wear lipstick.  So I put it in my suitcase (realizing that I would feel probably strangely out of place actually getting ready and wearing lipstick) and will bring that beloved lipstick home.  ROck on Filipino cosmetics.

And that's all.

The farther I get into my mission, the less I have to say.  Shouldn't it be the other way around?  Maybe not...

Last Monday morning, we had a zone activity and had to travel an hour and a half to Balanga to meet up.  It was just one of those really annoying, everything's happening that you don't want to happen, kind of days.  Let's just say we ended up 1hr late to our activity, managed to NOT avoid the closed down bridge, slow drivers, and a couple crazy people.  I'm sitting in the jeepney on the way to Balanga, my mind wandering to all the things that were hopefully going to happen, where we wanted to eat later, that
My companion & I

the color yellow looked good on the lady sitting across from me (you know, just the usual) and a mom got on the jeepney with her little kid.  She has Jolibee take-out in a couple fingers, a pinky finger around her bag, an umbrella about to fall out of her pocket and her kid's hand in her other hand.  She sits down, sits her kid down (might look as stressed out as I felt) and takes out their Jolibee and coffee to eat on the way home.  And then all the cracks in the road and speed bumps come and the jeepney just keeps chugging along (I love filipino driving).  Her hamburger goes to the floor (with the kid), umbrella under the seat, and her coffee all over her hand and pants. 

 I felt so bad for the mom, how hard her day might be right now.  Still thinking about how annoying our day was too.  And kind of realized (this was kind of a light-bulb thing for me) that sometimes, bad days just happen.  The bumps in the road come to everyone.  Sometimes, coffee is just going to spill, people are not going to listen, or you are just going to be late.  Those kind of days happen to everyone.  But I'm sure Heavenly Father thinks that sometimes, it's just fine that we have bad days, he probably sometimes chuckles as we try to get our way through those bad days.  But it's the way we deal with them that makes the difference.  Bad days can become good days, bad days can be erased by tomorrow, and we learn a lot about how not to spill our coffee again (or as a missionary, how not to be late again). 

we went to the market for lunch
 because we felt like it.
 I had mango and coconut juice shake.
Where else does that happen!
But usually we have more good days than bad days.  Yesterday, we had one of our investigators get baptized that has been waiting for 10 years, going to church for ten years, called a non-member for 10 years.  All her family has been baptized (even her kids), but she had to wait to get married.  Watching her finally be sustained as a full member of the church made all the bad days that are going to happen a lot more bearable.  Don't good days like that just absolutely rock?  I think they rock.

Balanga Zone Mar 9, 2014
Funny story: So the craziest food here is Balut, or fertilized, fermented duck egg.  I ate it a couple months ago and then found out last week that my FILIPINA companion, that is the one from the PHILIPPINES had never eaten balut.  So the American (me) threw her a "balut party."  Bought the best looking, biggest balut, put it nicely on a plate and we all got out the cameras.  (if you didn't know, that's how missionaries throw a party when it's late at night at almost bedtime).  She goes to open the shell, sip all the nasty duck juice and... she opens it to find that it has turned into a complete duck.  GROSSSS.  Full-fledged baby duck (feathers, legs, beak, eyes) and not even any juice left over.  She didn't eat it, and then we all went to bed.  THe end.



Week of Pictures!!

a real actual picture with my companion

dirty feet!

inside of a REAL cocoa bean

picking cocoa beans!!!!!! the beans inside are sitting on the window
drying right now:) I'm going to try to make my own chocolate




It is so hot here.  Just so so hot.  You wake up, it's really hot.  When you get out of the shower, I'm still sweating.  You sleep, you sweat, you eat, you sweat.  Don't even talk about when we actually have to go outside.  It's one big hot cycle now that we've hit dry season here.  ITS SO HOT.

my companion thinks i'm crazy because i sit in the sun for fun
And apparently, with the hot weather comes problems with the immigration process.  There was a mission-wide crisis kind of last week (that happened to also be the day before transfers) when the Philippines immigration office went beserk, there were problems with passports and me and Sister Rossberg (the other foreigner here) had to go get new passport stuff.  We spent 3 hours trying to fix our passports, trying to figure out problems of no internet and no way to send our new info, the deep, deep Tagalog all these crazy officials were shouting at us about migration, traveling wayyyy far, burning myself (haha), getting hotdog pizza, and finally ending up calling the zone leaders and letting them fix it for us:).  Don't mess with immigration.  

I've gone through another transfer, still in Mandama, and the tiny little Filipina is still my companion.  We are hitting the ground hard (sometimes pulling her along with me as I go haha) and doing great things.  

How's the new DIsney movie?

That's all I've got.