the jelly shoes
So, I kind of am getting a customized ukulele done from a member in one of our areas.  Forget the whole part that I'm not musical and have no idea how to play a ukulele...  It was just one of those weak moments where I could imagine myself all musical-like and cooool.  I couldn't help myself.  So, maybe Dad can help me learn that kind of thing when I get home?:)

Maybe there was no real reason that I decided to buy a ukulele, but half of me likes to justify it as a whole 1 year mark, self-given present.  I think back to a year ago, my first time emailing you guys from a small, dark computer shop, realizing that I was on an island on the other side of the world.  I couldn't speak anything but American language and was slightly worried about getting this whole missionary thing down.

Fast forward a year later, and I'm still here:)  

My first day in the Philippines, most of it spent driving in a van to my first area, wide-eyed with a still shiny name tag. I sat in the back, squished in between my suitcases, looking out the window as rain pelted the wind-shield.  I wondered how I was going to walk in the floods I saw outside, how I was going to teach people that only came up to my shoulders, and how I was ever going to get through a year and a half of this.  

Sister Samau & Sister Taylor
Last Wednesday was another transfer day.  I spend the day riding a bus, looking out the window at the floods and wet people and watching the raindrops fall from the window. 3 areas, 7 companions, 2 mission presidents, and 365 days later.  The first was spent the same as the 365th, getting off a bus stop, waiting for a companion to come and another adventure to start.  Wet shoes, tired eyes, and lots of people talking in another language.  But a year later, I better understand it.  

It's been a year with lots of walking, laughing and meeting new people that I love.  It's been 12 months of figuring out who I want to become and the kind of person I should be.  And if you think about it, 365 days is a lot of time to think.  Time I've had to change and time to improve.  It's so cool to look back an entire year.  Look at year-old pictures, year-old journal entries, talk to year-old companions, and realizing how much I've changed everyday of that 1 year.  

And the even better part is to think of that whole 6 months I still have left:)

But we have reached the rainy season once again.  The umbrellas, plastic bags for BofM's, and my good ole' jelly shoes have come out again!  Guagua has the biggest floods in the whole mission, we have been told to be really careful in our area, make sure we always have our 72hr. kits, and have also been prepared to work only a little bit because of all the floods we get here.  

...Bring it on:)  Missionary work gets so much funner when you have to do it in knee-high floods. 

But like I said, my companion transferred this week and left me in our area.  I miss her.  We got along really really well, as in probably one of my favorite companions.  We were both non-emotional, 'get it done' kind of people and were good at not taking things very seriously.  She taught me to eat like a Samoan and be patient, and I taught her to.... play solitare (I'm pretty sure she learned other things from me too?).  We spent all our free time playing speed and cards in the apartment (especially when she was sick).  But this week, I was left all alone to play cards by myself when I was bored, eating 4 month old m&m's, and trying not to think how fun our companionship was...  My companion right now is Filipina.  She told me she doesn't play cards.

Memorial Park
Funny Story:  We were walking around our area this week with not much to do and walked past a sign to "Memorial Park." Usually when you see signs like that, it means subdivision.  And for a missionary, it means lots of rich people houses:)  So we followed the sign, went in the gate and found a big, long road with houses all up and down.  I was SO excited.  We start walking past the houses, and I see that there's no furniture or... anything inside but a big box.  At every house it's that way.  Turns out this memorial park, what I thought was a subdivision was a cemetery.  We had a great plan to find all these people, and they just happen to be dead.  In the Philippines, it's normal to build big, fancy houses for your dead relatives to stay in. And I took a picture at the dead people's house.

LOVE x10000000,



the kids that follow me around
(I found nerd glasses againnnnn)!
 You can pretend to have to reeaally pee in order to get inside someone's house, use their CR, and then by chance ask to share with them about Jesus Christ:)  Take that, tricked new investigators!

The old Chinese embassy is in our area.  It's this big, really strangely decorated white, two-story building with really pretty. big red flowers everywhere.  The architecture is amazing.  We always go past it and I always look, hoping one day I'll see an actual Chinese person come out.  Then, earlier today, they finally told me it's the OLD embassy.  As in, no one works there anymore... (but I still look for them:))

Most of the call centers for the electronic companies are in the Philippines, it turns out.  One of the members here works for one.  He also told us that all the "annoying Americans" that call always ask to talk to someone that speaks English because they don't und
MLC (the only day we actually get ready)
erstand their accent.  They are trained to always say that they are the best person to handle the situation and the supervisor isn't available.  But turns out, when they say that, it really means there's no American that works there:).  Haha The bad accent is just something they have to deal with.

Sleeping for 2 hours a day as a missionary is not smart.  Especially the day before you have meetings all day.  And the speakers talking have the most calm, soft voice when they talk.  I would from now on recommend foregoing the games/late night talk, and actually sleeping...

guagua zone right before transfer
day, we had an activity because
we achieved our goals
Here, the Filipinos can take any kind of trash and make it into something new.  They don't waste anything!  Last week, we had to sell our old, broken refrigerator, and the people that came ended up fighting over it.  They have a big piece of plastic to now recycle and our apartment now has money!!!! (which we are using to finally buy some spoons!).
second of the matching skirts)

Looking over that list, it makes missionary work sound really 'work' based over here.  Haha.  But our work here is actually really doing well.  It's slowly picking up and there weren't as many doors slammed at us!:)  We've started coordinating with our branch president every week (and he's feeding us) and actually are filling up our whole day with members!  I'm happiest when I have work to do and a purpose to find:)
Getting here, I'm realizing how important my attitude is.  My attitude has changed from thinking of all the frustrating things happening to all the things I get to help with here in Guagua.  It has changed into an

'I'm so lucky to be able to leave my family and work for Heavenly Father!',

'It is so great to be able to get tan, laugh with a good companion and exercise all day!'

'I'm so glad these people are humble enough to at least believe in God.'

We had pig's blood for our meal on fiesta day!
Everything has become an attitude game for me.  Days can be so happy with a good attitude.  When the trials come, we can get dragged down with the details, become a rock at the bottom of the ocean our problems can be so big.  Everything is dark, you sit and wait for things to change, and the only other thing around you is probably other rocks.  But I would much better like to be a cork.  When the trials and hard stuff comes, be a cork.  Bob at the top of the water, going with flow, changing your course to learn from your trials.  Be a cork and don't let the hard stuff drag you down.  I put a sign above my desk this week that says "be a cork."  Sometimes, we come home with almost all punted appointments and dirty feet.  Sometimes, nobody listened to us that day.  But I'm learning to become that cork.  I'm trying to just bob on the top of the water and
I'm not letting any of that get me down.  Because I am so lucky to be here.
one night we just decided to do
 oatmeal face masks...
Funny story:  I got the April general conference Ensign this week (thanks mom!) and the first thing I did was look at all the pictures in it, to see all the different things the people were wearing.  The Ensign has become my only source of information of the what the styles are in America right now.  It's funny to look back at the past versions and see where the styles have changed haha.  I actually cut some of the outfits out to copy this week with one of my skirts.  Even on the mission, I've realized I haven't changed too much:)