Monday, December 28, 2015

We built another house...gingerbread houses!

This Christmas will probably be one of the hottest in my life, but it was one of the most unique too. I discovered that none of the other sisters have ever made gingerbread houses before, so I found all the ingredients (which is miraculous by the way because no one knew what "powdered sugar" was) and we had fun making them. On Christmas, we had a gathering with the senior missionary couple and other missionaries. Elder Gardner, the senior Elder, shared with us how missionaries undergo certain challenges and trials but because of it, they become better people and can help others. He said if they were asked to do it again, they would say yes. He then related it to how the Savior, through the Atonement, suffered for us and if asked to do it again, even just for one individual, he would say yes. It struck me how even though being here has sometimes been hard for me, my mission isn't about me at all. It's about Him and building His kingdom on the earth. I know that Christmas can be every day and when we keep His spirit to be with us, we can have true lasting happiness. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Lovely Weather for a Trike Ride Together With You!

This Christmas is special for me since it'll be the first spent away from home. As a missionary, you're constantly looking for ways to help others. I think that attitude of wanting to serve others like Christ would is especially present during the Christmas season. This week, we got to help build a bamboo home for a family that really needed it. Amidst all the Christmas parties and activities, being able to make a significant difference in that family's life is a beautiful gift for me. I know that the joy people feel around Christmas is founded in Christ's atonement and love for us. I've included a link to a video about Christ's birth and I encourage everyone, member or not, to take those few minutes to view it and enjoy the spirit it brings. Merry Christmas everyone from the Philippines!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bamboo boo-boo

We had a service project this week where we got to harvest bamboo to build a house for an especially impoverished member. I didn't realize though, that bamboo plants are covered in thorns, similar to rose bushes. But it was fun anyway to chop down bamboo plants with a machete and feel like a ninja! Filipino service projects really are the best! After breaking out the Neosporin and band-aids, we admired the fruits, or rather trees, of our labor. Harvesting the bamboo made me think of missionary work. Sometimes we meet people who are surrounded by bamboo thorns, meaning hard problems and weaknesses. But through a lot of work and patience the person, or bamboo stalk, itself is made free and clean. As missionaries we don't teach people the restored gospel just to pass along a nice message about God. Rather, our message has the power to change lives and help people feel perfectly clean. Even if I need some band-aids along the way, this work is the best and I'm so grateful to be a part of it!

Word of the Week: Aba matinde! -- Sarcastic wow Ex: Sister Morgan, "I am the most beautiful missionary ever!" My companion, "Aba matinde!"

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Vociferous, Loquacious, Garrulous People of the Philippines

It's funny, because as a missionary, you really do meet all kinds of people. Some are super shy (mostly because I'm probably one of the only white people they've ever seen in their life) while others are just confused as they try to understand my Tagalog. But every once in a while, I run into a couple people who are more talkative than me! They are all so sweet though. I just sometimes feel like a deer in the headlights when they talk so fast and for so long. I wonder if they know how to do circular breathing because they never stop either. At least it's a good language study opportunity. One such investigator has these two scary guard dogs, Jackie and Bruce (which is the best mean dog names ever haha). After they got used to us, they were super sweet too. We asked where Bruce's dog wife is (Jackie is the daughter) and they told us "Kinain ng mga tao," which means, "People ate her." Well. Yes. That is one reason. At least there is always the resurrection right? This sister came to church and said that she's really excited for us to share the gospel with her. Miracles are happening in our work and I'm grateful for those before us who helped prepare these people to receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. By the way, Merry Christmas!

Word of the Week (Double bonus this week!): Kahoy --- wood; Hipon --- Shrimp Ex: Let's roast hipon on the kahoy!

Monday, November 30, 2015

For Thanksgiving I Ate...Rice!

It was fun this week to be the only American in our apartment and introduce the others to the culturally rich and beloved tradition of celebrating our gratitude by eating heaps of food. Haha although I could tell that they thought it was kinda weird when I showed them how to make turkey hands and a thankful chain counting the days until Christmas. Our feast though was utterly...astig! We had roast chicken (no turkeys here), mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing. They don't have pie here but we had a dulce de leche pull-apart instead. It was the most magnificent meal I've eaten here. Too bad there's no Black Friday to follow. 
However, in order to keep with the spirit of Thanksgiving, I leave this post by saying how thankful I am to be a on mission. It's only until I've left on my mission that I fully understand what it truly means to be a missionary. Yeah, sure it's hard when people reject you or others don't progress. But even still, I'm so thankful for the trust God has given me to share His restored Tagalog. I know that this work is the errand of angels and I'm grateful to be a part of it.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sister Morgan and the Sketchy Hanging Bridges

In one of my areas, a river flows all over the place, so of course to cross it, they built a whole ton of sketchy hanging bridges. As I gingerly walked over the plethora of bamboo boards held together by cables and nails, others kept passing me running with rice bags on their shoulders. I definitely felt a bit like a foreigner haha. Even though the pathway was perilous, the views were amazing. The people here are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place. In the Book of Mormon the prophet Alma talks about how we can know that there is a God. One of the reasons he gives says, "All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator" (Alma 30:44). I know that God lives and we are His literal children living in His beautifully created world. I'm so thankful to be here and be a witness of Him and his divine creations and all therein...even the sketchy hanging bridges.  

Word of the Week: Patang-pata -- deep Tagalog for exhausted
Ex: Sister Morgan works so hard that by the end of the day she is patang-pata.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Something Smells Fishy

This is my companion
This week I bought some tilapia from the market to cook for dinner, all in Tagalog! However, my companion informed me that I needed to clean it later. Originally I thought, "No problem! It's just cute little fish!" But then later when my hands looked like a fish serial killer hands and I had grey innards all over me, I decided that I'll just stick to buying chicken instead. In terms of fun food this week, I finally got around to trying chicken heart and liver. It was okay...but I like fried chicken better haha. I wanted to show off to the other sisters my cooking skills, so I carved one of my famous apple swans. They thought it was kagilagilalas! (See word of the week.)
While visiting a family for lunch, they told me how their children had painted the animals. When I saw the cat it looked so kawawa (pitiful). I fed it my fish bones to make it happy.
I also had an opportunity to teach one of the Sunday School classes about the principle of obedience. As I was teaching, I really felt the 

Spirit impress upon me that the reason God gives us commandments to follow is because He loves us. Just as parents look out for their children, I know that God is eager to have His children become better too. I know that through obedience and hard work, miracles come!
Word of the Week: kagilagilalas -- fantastic!

Monday, November 9, 2015

I've been transferred to...

 ...Masinloc! I am now in my second area! Masinloc is actually only 25 minutes driving from Sta. Cruz and is in the same district too. I haven't gone too far! We have 6 sisters, instead of 4, in our home so it's a bit squishy. BUT...I found some Scooby-Doo sheets at an ukay-ukay (clothing/fabric stores) and now my bed is THAT much cooler. My new companion is Sister Tantiangco and both of us are opening our area so we basically never know where we are going. If only Sister Siri could be in a trio with us haha. 
This week I finally ate balut! It is a partially fertilized egg where you drink the juice and then eat the half formed chicken embryo. Not bad, but I might stick to my sunny-side up eggs.
We had an interesting lesson with a mother of a teenage convert who asked if Mormons use the Bible. I could really feel the Spirit as I testified about how not only is the Bible the word of God, but that the Book of Mormon is too and both complement each other. I know that as we read the scriptures, answers to all our questions come and we grow closer to God. If you've never read the Book of Mormon, or it's been a while, I encourage you to read (or Google to find it) 2 Nephi 31 and 32. It contains the gospel of Christ and I know it is true. 
Word of the Week:  Matiyaga -- really hard-working Ex: I am such a matiyaga missionary!

Monday, November 2, 2015

For Halloween I Was...A Sister Missionary!

Even though for Halloween I didn't get any candy, I probably still scared a couple people! It's really funny to me because sometimes as we walk by, some people try and hide to avoid us and it's very obvious to us what they're doing. Next time you see a pair of missionaries don't run or hide! At least say hi and introduce yourself and I promise you what they have to say is sweeter than any Snickers bar. People here in the Philippines don't really celebrate Halloween with costumes and candy. Rather, on the next day they celebrate "All Saints Day" where you go to the cemetery to honor your ancestors with food and flowers. 
To update ya'll with new foods I've tried this week, we stopped by one of the local BBQ places and ate some roasted cubed curdled pig blood! To be honest, I was slightly scared to try it, but then I thought about how cool I'll be when I come back and say I've eaten roasted cubed curdled pig blood so I ate it. It actually wasn't too terrible! Will I eat it again? Nah...but at least my stomach is still intact!

Word of the Week: Napakahalaga -- really important Ex: I am so napakahalaga!