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,