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.
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)