Monday, August 15, 2016
KUMUSTA! Woah, everything is crazy. Also sorry sorry for the super rambly email last week haha I was trying to fit everything in and it kept freezing and I was panicking. I'll try harder to sound like an adult this week haha. I'm literally having so much fun. Obviously it's really hard adjusting to everything and being so far away from friends and family and I've had multiple little rough moments, but OVERALL I'm loving everything and everyone and wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now.
Haha the language is coming very slowly but surely. I'm very grateful for the 6 weeks that I had in the MTC because even though it's really hard right now, I can understand WAY more than I would have without it. I can understand people when they're talking about religious things pretty well, I just have a hard time responding and putting my own thoughts and sentences together. I have a much easier time understanding people who's second language is Hiligaynon- so people who learned it either from Tagalog or English, because it's harder for me to understand native people's accents because they talk so fast (haha karma for me for talking so fast my whole life). Comprehension of regular conversation and small talk is wayyyyyyyy worse. I can sometimes get the gist from picking out some words that I know, but usually I'm just really confused. My companion is a true friend and translates for me though. Basically, however many people there are in a conversation, I'm that number wheel and I just try to listen really hard and figure out what's going on. I literally have this exact conversation at least once a day:
me: "kumusta! ako si Sister Rainey, Taga America ako, bago gid nga misyonera ako"- hi I'm sister Rainey I'm from America, I'm a new missionary
person: intyende ka ilonggo?- do you understand ilonggo?
me: uhhhh jiutay lang, una semana ko sa Philippines- just a little, my first week in the Philippines
person (to my companion)- intyende sia!! sagad gid sia!- she understands! she's so talented!
Then they keep talking and I have no idea what's going on. They are literally so impressed by my ability to understand that one sentence and it's so funny, little do they know that that's about it that I understand. Haha it's super fun trying to learn though, I've definitely gotten a lot better since I've been here with the full immersion. I just need to work a lot on my accent because even though my words will sometimes be right, it's still hard for people to understand me sometimes because my accent is so thick. I get made fun of because I still have a hard time putting together sentences so sometimes when people ask me questions I just say "nami gid!" with a really big smile and a thumbs up. I'm still really bad at teaching lessons, but I'm slowly getting better. My companion leads and I just fill in the gaps whenever she wants me to with whatever comes to mind. Gift of tongues is so real because I say so much that I didn't even know that I knew. It's so cool to be able to feel the spirit so often even when I have honestly no idea what's going on.
Sipalay is so pretty and I'm so close to the beach and I'm so excited to do some hikes and see stuff next week. The past 2 weeks we've had meetings in Bacolod so I've spent my P-days taking 6 hour bus rides up to the city which is fun. And I washed my clothes for the first time this morning! Haha domestic gid. (gid is just an emphasizer, it's like very or really). Ummm yeah, the little timer thing is telling me it's time to go. Love you all so much, hope everyone is doing well. The mission is really hard but I wouldn't change it for the world, I"m so blessed to be here with some of the most incredible people in the entire world. It's cool seeing people come unto Christ and improve their lives and grow closer with their families through our message. Love you all!!
Holy what. What a week. I've been in my area for 3 days and it's already felt like maybe 10 years. Haha you're all lucky that I'm sending this today instead of on Thursday because the 3rd world culture shock was real. Haha it's all fun and games in the Philippines MTC where there's hot water and soap and toilet paper and air conditioning. Fun fact: the rest of the Philippines is not like that. Okay I have like 0 time because I'm at a cute little internet cafe and I have to pay by the hour and it's super glitchy and annoying. I'm going to try to sum everything up as fast as I can sorry in advance if it's rambly.
WAS SO FUN. All of the Filipino Elders and Sisters were literally the nicest people that I've ever met and it was so fun getting to know them for just 5 days. Everyone referred to Sister Fawcett and I as the water sisters which was really cute and we made a lot of really cool friends. The highlight was when we got to go out proselyting in Manila with Tagalog speaking missionaries. Sister Fawcett and I were paired with Sister Fidow and during our first lesson we just spoke in English really slowly but for the second lesson the lady ended up being from Bacolod and knowing Hiligaynon and it was so cool because we got to bear our testimonies in Hiligaynon and kind of communicate with her and after we talked to her she started talking to the other Sister in Tagalog and was smiling and laughing and looked so happy and the Sister translated for us that she was just so happy because she never thought that foreigners would take the time to learn her native language and she loved hearing us speak it even though it wasn't perfect. So so cool to be a part of bringing the gospel to the entire world in people's native languages (even if no one knows they exist)
For our first day in Bacolod we did a ton of training with the 8 of us that came from the Manila MTC together with the Mission President who is super nice and I love so much. That night we stayed in a sisters' apartment in the city (with Sister Schneider!- a friend that I met a couple of months ago in UT that is 6 weeks ahead of me) and that's when it hit me that we were in a 3rd world country because there wasn't running water and it was so hot and sticky and gross.. but I've adjusted since then so no worries! On Thursday we met our trainers and had a little bit more training. My trainer is Sister Hermosura and she's from Cavite (like 45 min outside of Manila) and she's the sweetest. She's doing a really good job of helping me learn the language even though I'm high key helpless. She's very patient with me which is awesome. I'm in the Sipalay (GOOGLE IT) area and IT IS SO PRETTY. When I told some older elders where I was going they all said it was incredible and "para-iso" and IT IS. It's right on the coast and the beaches are gorgeous and there are rice fields and palm trees every where and I'm so happy. THE SKY IS BLUE (hallelujah I'm not in the polluted city) and it's super rural with lots of very humble and nice people. Haha it's only downside is that it's a 6-ish hour busride south of Bacolod... it's almost at the very bottom of the mission- there are only 2 other areas below me and only elders go there because I think they're more sketch. Literally dream area, wish I could stay here my whole mission
It's been a little frustrating the past few days just because I've never felt so dumb in my entire life and I literally just sit through lessons and try my hardest to understand what's going on but the speed and accent throw me off so much. Probably the best thing that's happened to me since I've been here is when I bore my testimony on Sunday in front of my new ward and I started with how I was sorry I wasn't very good at Ilonggo but I was trying my hardest and then I said what I could and when I sat down afterwards these two little 8 year old girls that I love so much put their arms around me and said "tudloan namon" which means "we'll teach you" and my heart literally melted. Haha later that day we were at their house and I had like 6 little girls surrounding me for my Hiligaynon lessons and they would point to things and tell me the word and if I said it right they all applauded and hugged me and it made me so happy. They are so sweet and I love them so much. The young women are also the best and the 12 and 13 year old girls help me try and have conversations and when I say words right they nod their heads really hard and get so excited for me. Everyone is so nice and compliments my Ilonggo even though I have no idea what's going and they're all so supportive and helpful it's crazy. Filipinos are literally the nicest people I've ever met in my whole life, I haven't met an exception.
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES
-It rains on the daily... it will be sunny and then 2 seconds later just POUR. Haha people here like rain puns even more than in America and they're always applicable because it rains so much...So I get lots of comments on my name
-ITS SO HARD TO NOT BE DISTRACTED DURING LESSONS BECAUSE 1.I DON'T KNOW THE LANGUAGE AND 2. THERE ARE BABY CHICKS AND PUPPIES AND LITTLE KIDS WITHOUT PANTS RUNNING AROUND AND SOMETIMES GIANT CARIBOU/COWS JUST WALKING AROUND. But it's so fun and it keeps things exciting
-Trikes are my new favorite mode of transportation we literally take them everywhere
Shoot I had so much more to say but I'm out of time. I'll try to attach pictures but who knows. Just know that I feel SO blessed to be here. I'm so grateful that I get to serve here and I'm so happy that this mission isn't about me because if it were about me I think I'd be in a much worse mood with the weather and the living conditions and just about everything because I am VERY out of my element. But I'm so happy for the opportunity to be here serving the people of Sipalay right now- they are some of the most special people that I've ever met and it's only been 3 days! Can't wait for the next 16 months! (this Wed I've been gone for 2 months- what?!) Also I don't have time to respond to everyone's emails but I'll eventually catch up. Everyone write me snail mail- I think my mom might have the directions for pouch mail or I'm sure you can find it on the church website somewhere.
SO MUCH LOVE FROM THE PHILIPPINES HOPE YOU ARE ALL DOING WELL<#
KUMUSTA FROM THE PHILIPPINES!!! Haha I was hoping one of you would be on so we could email back and forth but word on the street is that it's like 4 in the morning in America right now, so nevermind. Holy cow this has high key been the longest day of my life. Good news is that I got to see the sunrise in Hong Kong this morning, so I can go ahead and check that off the bucket list AND got to spend an entire 13 hours on a plane crossing the Pacific Ocean so that was pretty fun. BUT I'M HERE NOW. Haha there was a split second right before the plane landed in Manila from Hong Kong where I had a panic attack and was like "what the heck am I doing, where I am, I want to go back to VA right now please" but then as soon as we hit the ground I remembered how excited I am to be here and serving the people and I don't even care THAT THE HUMIDITY IS HORRIBLE- LITERALLY LIKE WALKING INTO A BRICK WALL GETTING OFF THE PLANE and everything kind of smells weird. I already love everyone that I have met so much and Manila is one of the coolest places that I have ever been. Literally NoVa has NOTHING on Manila traffic, at one point we were on a street with literally no lines on it and probably 7 lanes of traffic and then suddenly it turned to 3 and it's every man for themselves with lots of honking and swerving around, meanwhile there's like a million motorcycles weaving through everyone and people on the sides of the street selling stuff and it was insane but SO COOL.
Haha everyone says that when you go to your mission, the first thing that you say when you get off the plane is "this isn't what they taught me in the MTC" because the accents and speed are so much different. Except that's even more real for me because everyone here speaks Tagalog which is cool, except I can't understand them. It's like in Madagascar when the penguins are like, "Just smile and wave" -- I mostly just smile and nod a lot when I have no idea what people are saying. I don't know a whole lot of Ilonggo, but what I do know isn't going to be super helpful until next Wednesday, but that's okay. And tomorrow we get to go out for a couple of hours in Manila and proselyte which should be fun! I think/hope they'll pair the Ilonggo missionaries with Tagalog ones so it's less confusing, but apparently a lot of people in Manila also speak enough English that you can use Tag-longlish and they'll understand. I'll let y'all know how that goes next week.
But yeah, super excited to be here and having so much fun and even more excited to fly out to Bacolod on Wednesday! I won't have a p-day this week just with how everything works out, so I'll be off the grid for a little bit, but you'll probably hear from me next Monday-- maybe Wednesday or Thursday but I doubt it. Anyways, so much love to all of you, keep me updated with everything, I promise I'll respond it will just take a little bit of time haha. Hope everyone is having a fantastic week!
(pasensiya no pics... camera is somehwere in my bags and I don't have time to find it. also jet lag is hard, my brain is so confused)
HANDA. KANTA! (We sing an Ilonggo hymn before every class and since there aren't a lot of pianos and instruments at churches in the Philippines, the director just sings the first 2 meters alone and then says "handa, kanta!"- which means "ready, sing!" and everyone joins in. Except we didn't start conjugating and using handa in any other context except for that for the first couple of weeks so now when ever our teachers ask "handa?" for any activity- we all respond "kanta!" So that's how I'm currently feeling about the Philippines TOMORROW. As handa as I'll ever be and stoked out of my mind to serve all of the incredible people that I'll meet there. We leave tomorrow night and land in Manila sometime Friday morning and because of time zone changes we basically lose July 28 which is kind of sad BUT when we fly back next Christmas- I'll get an extra day of Christmas so I'm pretty excited.
The last week has been insane because it has FLOWN by (just like the other 5 weeks) and our room is trashed right now because my companion and I's stuff is EVERYWHERE because we're trying to pull everything together before we leave the country for 17 months. We made a trip to the book store last week and I spent WAY too much money because we both had mini heart attacks about being in a third world country for a year and a half and I bought maybe like 4 things of toothpaste which probably was unnecessary. But it's whatever, no regrets. The coolest thing about this past week is that we've spent a lot of time just going over all of the things that we've learned during out time at the MTC as our classes wrap up and we prepare for the real world. On Friday the MTC runs a thing called "Infield Orientation" where ALL of the missionaries that are flying out the next week meet together and have classes and workshops all day and it was AMAZING. There were so many good points but one of my favorites was the importance of raising our expectations. If we don't think we're going to make a difference- we probably aren't. They talked so much about how important it was to set goals and try our hardest every single day if we want to achieve our full potential and bless as many lives as we can.
My companion hosted (helped her around on her first day) a sister from Thailand a couple of weeks ago and she's in a trio with another sister from Thailand and a sister from Brazil who are all here learning English together and we've all become great friends and they are some of the nicest people that I've ever met so whenever Sister Fawcett and I have free time we like to go visit them at night because they are literally the happiest people I've met in my entire life and I wish I had a picture of them but I should have one by next week so I'll send it then...
Still love my district and my zone so much- so many incredible people and I love them all so much and I made them all promise that we'd have lots of reunions at BYU after our missions. Also when we leave tomorrow THIRTY ONE elders and sisters come in to replace us- that's basically 4x as many as us. It's insane and we're SO excited for the zone, in the time that I've been here it's grown from 8 people to 46 and in the next 3 weeks there will be more than 50. Exciting things are happening in the Philippines right now!
Also my district found out how bad I am at geography and everyone makes fun of me because apparently the rocky mountains go all the way up into Canada (who knew?), also I thought Malaysia was above the Philippines, and every time we watch anything with a picture of nature everyone goes "hey, that looks like Virginia!" because I apparently do that... oops.
ANYWAYS. Out of time because have to go pack and do my laundry (last time with machines!). I love each of you so so much you have no idea. Thanks for all of the emails and letters and support you have no idea how much it means to me. ALSO I haven't gotten any mail since Saturday morning because of a holiday in UT yesterday, but I should get everything tonight and I'll respond next week, so don't be offended.
Kabalo ako nga palangga kita sang Dios kag mga bata kita niya. Kabalo ako nga matuod ang Simbahon ni Jesucristo sang mga Santos sa Ulihing mga Adlaw. Kabalo ako nga ginpanumbalik sang Dios ang ebanghelyo paagi kay Joseph Smith kag propeta si Joseph Smith kag pulong sang Dios ang Libro ni Mormon. Kabalo ako nga ginpadala sang Dios si Jesucristo para sa aton kag paagi sa pagbayad-sala ni Jesucristo, makatinluan kita sa tanan mga sala naton kag makabalik nga magbuhi upod sang Dios para sa walay katipusan. Nagapasalamat ako para sa mabuhi nga mga propeta kag apostoles kag makabaton sila sang pagpahayag halin Dios para sa aton. Nagapasalamat ako para sa opportunidad ko nga magtudlo kag magalagad kag palangga sang mga tawo sa Philippines tungod kabalo ako nga buligon sila paagi sa ini ebanghelyo.
(I know that God loves us and that we are his children. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint is true. I know that God restored the gospel through Joseph Smith and that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that God sent Jesus Christ for all of us and that through Christ's atonement, we are able to become clean of all of our sings and are able to return to live with God for eternity. I am grateful for living prophets and apostles that are able to receive revelation from God for us all. I am grateful fo rthe opportunity that I have to teach and search and love the people of the Philippines because I know that they will be blessed through the gospel)
LOVE YOU SO MUCH. KEEP IN CONTACT WITH ME PALEHOGGG (PLEASEEE) I'LL STILL HAVE AN HOUR-ISH TO EMAIL EVERY WEEK WHEN I'M IN THE PHILIPPINES. MUCH LOVE,
GINABUHI ANG KABUHI (Another very rough translation- LIVING THE LIFE)
KUMUSTA FRIENDS! Miss and love all of you so much, but having so much fun. First off, I have officially been here for more than a month! WHAT?! It's gone by so fast and it's so weird that I only have 17 months left of my mission (which for some reason seems a lot smaller than 18)... ALSO IN EIGHT DAYS I'M LEAVING THE COUNTRY. So that's cool. I'm a fun mixture of scared out of my mind because I don't think I'm adequately prepared for 3rd world life and I also speak the language mediocre at best... BUT I AM SO EXCITED because I'm kind of done with the MTC and I want to meet and teach real people and IT'S GOING TO BE SO FUN. I'm low key panicking that I'm leaving America so soon so I've been trying to enjoy the little things as much as I can- mostly hot showers with running water and cereal and milk. Apparently they only have powdered milk in the Philippines and cereal is SUPER expensive. Sad, right? It's okay though because all of the other incredible things about the people and the culture make up for it.
DAMOS MGA MISYONERO GID (So many missionaries!)
There are so many missionaries here right now! It's insane. I'm pretty sure there are more than 2400 right now and there are so many of us that we don't all fit in our big auditorium for meetings anymore. We get 600-800 new missionaries every Wednesday and Monday through Wednesday the dorms are crazy because there are tons of missionaries packing and weighing suitcases before they fly out to make room for the incoming missionaries. I don't know how many missionaries have come and gone in the past month since I've been here but it's a lot and it's so cool to be a part of something so huge. I literally love every single person that I have met and feel so blessed to know so many incredible people that are literally ALL OVER the world right now, doing their best to serve others and help them come unto Christ. Big things are happening and I'm so happy to be a part of it.
DAMOS GID PAGTU-ON (So much learning!)
Good news! The language is coming! I'm still not incredible, but I'm trying hard and I'm definitely improving. I'm actually really annoyed because I've been trying hard to get better at putting my sentences in the right order and now that I'm writing in English I have to put them back in the right order and my brain hurts. Also whenever I've started making a lot of weird mistakes when I write in English, especially if words sound similar so sorry in advance if this email sounds like trash. Fun fact about Ilonggo of the week: We found out why all of their words are SO long. There are a bunch of root words but then you use a bunch of prefixes to change the words entirely. Honestly the hardest part about Ilonggo is that it's so much more simplified than English that it's sometimes hard to wrap your head around because it doesn't have a lot of the dumb filler words that we use. Like for example, tindog is the verb to stand but then patindog means to cause to stand so it actually means to establish and then if you throw a maka on it you get makapatindog which means to be able to establish or nakapatindog if you want to say someone was able to establish. So basically Ilonggo is the greatest language ever and I would 10/10 recommend that we start teaching it in high schools. It literally makes 10x more sense than English and sounds cooler. Stoked out of my mind to get to be in the Philippines next week so that I can learn it even more through full immersion. I think the first 3 months will be super rough and the next 3 months will be medium rough, but it'll be worth it if I can communicate almost fluently for the other 12 months. I'M LITERALLY SO EXCITED. Can you tell?
MALIPAY PANGHUNAHUNA SA SEMANA (Happy thought of the week)
ELDER BEDNAR CAME AND TALKED TO US AND IT WAS INCREDIBLE. Every Sunday night we have a devotional with all of the missionaries and then they show movies in different buildings around campus and we can pick which one we want to see (and when I say movie I mean an old devotional that they recorded). And one of the most popular movies is called "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar and he talks about how we can more fully turned outward and serve and love those around us as we strive to develop the Character of Christ and think less of ourselves. They told us we were just going to watch the movie and then when it ended Elder Bednar just walked in and led a question and answer session for an hour about the character of Christ and it was INCREDIBLE. (Also I just realized I'm the worst because I always use weird words in these emails and I forget that some people have no idea what I'm talking about... Our church is set up in the exact same way as the church when Jesus Christ was on the Earth so we have a living prophet (Thomas S. Monson) and 12 apostles who lead the church and Elder Bednar is one of the apostles... Sorry I'm annoying, if you have any questions about anything check out mormon.org or email me (email@example.com)..
. fun fact- I haven't ignored a single email yet, so I promise I'll respond:) Anyways, the take away was how important it is to truly love the people where we're serving and to FORGET ourselves as we think of how we can help bless people's lives as we help them come unto Christ. Elder Bednar talked a lot about how in every example of Christ in the Bible and the Book of Mormon he turns outward when the natural man would turn inward and think only of himself. The real life application for me and my companion was to try and not be as much of perfectionists because as we focus too much on learning the language perfectly or learning the lessons perfect or trying to teach perfectly, we're not being selfish but we're sure as heck being self-centered. Our new goal is to focus completely on loving, serving, and listening to the people that we work with, and have faith that all of the other stuff will come as long as we're trying our hardest. I'm grateful for the opportunity to forget myself for the next 17 months as I strive to love and serve those in the Philippines. I've got a long way to go, but I'm excited to keep working on loving everyone more as I think of myself a little/a lot less.
Once again- didn't proof read this so sorry. Also special s/o to whoever actually read this entire email. Impressed gid ako. Sending so much love from Provo, hope everyone is well. Email and write me! It makes me happy!