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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)..
. 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!