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<#