Monday, July 27, 2015

Attack of the Giant Flesh Eating Mosquitoes

I've finished my first official week here in Santa Cruz and I guess the natural wildlife here wanted to congratulate me by chewing me up. You could say they left an impression on me (cue joke drum riff). I'm becoming more and more grateful for modern medicine, including the makers of Cefalexin, Deet and 7-11 Slurpies. I guess I need some trial right? 

As part of my first official week, I also got to ride my first official bike! It's fun to bike through the dirt roads trying to avoid the pot holes and roaming dogs. 

We passed by a local church that was built through funds from a couple in Seattle. It was fun to see my hometown randomly in a place so far away. We traveled to some of the farther parts of our area where it's more rural and water buffalo are more abundant. The countryside here is amazing. Sometimes I'll pause among the guava and coconut trees and look out at the surrounding palay, or rice fields, with the tropical mountains in the distance and not believe I'm actually here. The people here, while lacking in monetary or material wealth, have such a spirit of endurance and humbleness. While I'm still not understanding everything, I can tell that there are many here ready to receive the gospel. 

We had a branch (a congregation smaller than a ward or about 120 people or less) activity where we watched the movie, "The Testaments," which is about Christ visiting the people in the Americas after his resurrection. The scripture in Matthew that talks about Christ visiting other sheep that are not of this fold and having one fold and one Shepard, made me reflect on my purpose as a missionary. I too, am helping the Filipino people come unto Christ and become part of his one true fold. I'm so grateful for the experiences I'm having here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

I'm Singing in the Rain

Wow what a week! The plane rides to get to the Philippines went well. I got to speak to a couple people in line in Tagalog and they actually understood me! I also used a little bit of the Cantonese my mom taught me in the Hong Kong airport. The flight itself was way long but they did have the game "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" on the back of the seats. It was sort of frustrating though because I think it was the British version because it kept asking questions about cricket and British slang. Our district's personal record was only 64,000. Other than learning about British fun facts, I mostly slept. We arrived into Manila around 11 PM, but it was really disorientating because it was the next day. 

Families I taught in Manila before leaving for Olongapo

The Philippines is such a cool place! While it may be a bit more humid and hotter than I'm used to, the sunsets are absolutely beautiful and the greenery is so lush. We stayed in the Manila MTC for about 5 days and practiced teaching lessons and more importantly, went to the immigration office to extend our visas. There we talked with some people, and I quickly found out that most of them weren't Filipino, but rather Korean or Japanese. Luckily, I was able to use the 5 phrases of Japanese I know and still talk with them! After the Manila MTC, we were bused to the mission home in Olongapo to meet our trainers and Mission President. I had to say goodbye to some of the missionaries in my district, as they were going to a different mission. 

Olongapo is about a 2 hour drive from Manila. My mission president is President Dahle and he is super nice! My trainer is Sister Otod and she's been serving for about 7 months. We've been assigned to the city of Santa Cruz, which is the farthest area from the mission home. The trainers are supposed to help us learn how to teach and fortunately, Sister Otod is fluent at Tagalog. Missionary life here is such a different experience. Like, if you want vegetables or meat, you just go down to the local open market and get it there. A giant pig head will just lie on the table while the worker, with a large butcher knife, cuts up the piece of meat you selected. The food hasn't been too crazy yet. Lots of rice, chicken, cabbage, rice, pork, rice, fish, rice etc. I bought some food to make PB&J sandwiches, so I enjoy that too. 
Mini Bananas

Rainy season is definitely here! Just imagine having an umbrella and wading through flood waters and being completely soaked by the end of the day. I miss the misty Seattle rain, but it's been cool to experience this weather too. We have lots of investigators and people to teach. I teach on average about 5 lessons each day, all in Tagalog. Everyone speaks so fast here! I'm able to pick out a couple words here and there, but so far, I don't really know what's going on most of the time. The people here, though, are so open and accepting. The kids especially like me because I'm the only white American in all of Santa Cruz. One of the women said that my hair is like a doll and everyone wants to touch it. It's funny to me that they are so fascinated by it. 

For church, I'm one of the only people who know how to play piano, so I'll be playing for them. They also want me to teach lessons too. Apparently, they have missionaries sing each week, so I sang "How Great Thou Art" for them. On Saturday, just 3 days after arriving, I had my first baptism! The missionaries before me did most of the teaching, but I taught a little bit too. It's amazing to see the success here in the Philippines. While so many things are different here, feeling the Spirit and God's love is exactly the same. I love how the gospel is for everyone no matter what their situation or circumstance is. Overall, it's been crazy, but a good crazy :)

Word of the Week: Matangkad -- tall (I'm matangkad and have to duck everywhere I go)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

First Area

Audrey arrived safely in the Philippines.  
Her first area is in Santa Cruz.
Audrey with her new companion Sister Otod

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Come Fly With Me

This is it! I fly out to the Philippines and will be speaking Tagalog for the next 17 months! We said goodbye to our teachers and the other missionaries we met here. Ingat po USA!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sister Morgan and the Fleet of Yellow Skirts

Kumusta mga tao! This is the last post before I head off to the Philippines! It's crazy to think that I'll be half-way across the world teaching in Tagalog. I, along with the other missionaries in my district, will be flying on the 9th and will make two layovers in LA and Hong Kong. I'll also get to stay in the Manila MTC for about 5 days and attend the temple there. 

This week has been mostly continuing to study the language and practice teaching. They have all missionaries go to an "In-Field Orientation" program where they teach you about how to transition into real missionary work with real people. I also got to skype Danika in the Philippines again! It's so great to see a sneak preview of how loving and welcoming the Filipino people are. I got to see the documentary "Meet the Mormons" and I loved it. If any of you are curious about what Mormons believe or what values we have, I would highly encourage you to watch it. It's really well made, and I believe it's currently available on Netflix. 

Elder Tenea doing a Kiribati dance

The MTC has been a wonderful experience and I'm going to miss the missionaries that I've met here. Side note, it seems like every single sister missionary owns at least one yellow skirt. Like, when walking from place to place, I'll play a game with myself and count all the yellow skirts I see. One time I got 12 in just five minutes. I don't know if it's an unspoken sister missionary rule to wear them all the time but I think it's really funny. I don't know how many yellow skirts there will be in the Philippines, but I'm excited nonetheless to travel there and help people come unto Christ.