Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lots of hugs from me to you!

Merry Christmas!!! Hehe, here in the Philippines, the polite holiday greeting is "Merry Christmas Po!" It makes me laugh to put the Po at the end, but that's how to address people with respect. It was so good to talk on the phone with you! Sounds like you had a great Christmas. It was a good Christmas here too, although it was really weird without snow! We sang Christmas carols and gave out Book of Mormons at the hospital, had a zone activity, and ward/stake Christmas parties. Hehe, here in the Philippines, they really love to dance. Everyone. And sing. The ward parties are much more lively than any I've seen before - they remind me of youth/EFY activities. It's so fun because all of the adults get really involved in the dancing and activities. I love the Filipino people - they are so sweet and warm and friendly. And they are always smiling. They love to give lots of hugs too. I love how colorful it is here. All of the houses are surrounded by all sorts of tropical green trees and bamboo. Most of the houses have bamboo roofs. Whenever we go to someone's house, instead of knocking, we yell "Tao Po!" (i.e. anyone home?) The roads are very busy - lots of Jeepneys and trikes. No stoplights and so we just have to cross wherever we get the chance. I think I'm getting used to it though.

Thank you so much for your wonderful emails! I love you all very much. Oh, did I tell you that I did meet Elder Anderson from Fairview, and Elder Titensor in Aunt Gracie's ward. That's wonderful that Sister Allred was able to contact you! She told me she would email you. She and President Allred took me and Sister Broadhead (the other American sister in my batch) out for lunch on Saturday and bought us a bunch of "American" groceries (which is good because neither of us have been eating very much lately). Today, they will be taking us both for most of our P-day to Rosales. I am looking forward to it a lot! There have been a lot of challenges this week, but I know that Heavenly Father will help me. This is His work. I appreciate your prayers. I know that this is His restored gospel. I'm so grateful to have it. So many people here don't understand what life is all about, and it's sad to see how different life can be without that knowledge.

I know Heavenly Father loves us! Life is happy!
Have a great week!
Love always, Rebecca

P.S. Send my love to my dearest sweetheart, Alex! I'm so proud of him for being such a dedicated hard-working missionary :)

Email From December 20

Hello wonderful family! Thank you for your emails! Magandag Pasko/Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday Daddy! I love to hear about what has been going on. Well I am here! I have been assigned to my first area, Dagupan! My trainer is Sister Garma (hehe, whenever I say her name it reminds me of "Sister Garmin" and how ironic it is because Sister Garma truly is my "navigator" and helps me find my way. I thought Daddy would get a few chuckles out of that. She has been here for 8 months. Yes, she is the one in the photo that President Jensen sent you. I'm so glad President Jensen sent you those pictures. How nice! Sister Garma is a native but she speaks some English. We live with 2 other sisters, Sister Jover and Sister Tobias (both also natives) in a two-story apartment. It has been interesting for sure. So many new things. Sometimes it's hard because I don't understand what they are saying - the people here talk so fast. I'm struggling to be able to understand when people speak. Please pray for me. Most people here speak some English but prefer speaking in Tagalog. It's funny to hear them switch back and forth between the two in the same conversation. I love their Filipino accents when speaking English--it's cute! Many Filipinos greet me with English greetings like "Hey Maam!" and "Good Evening Maam" and smile because I am a foreigner. The Filipinos are so sweet. I have been assigned to the Dagupan 3rd ward - it is a very strong ward. There were 4 baptisms on Saturday. On Sunday, they asked me last minute to play the piano for the Primary program in Sacrament meeting. I also got to bear my testimony is Sacrament meeting. I am enjoying getting to know the people. This morning Sister Garma taught me how to wash my laundry by hand. Hehe, it was funny to see the neighbors staring at me the entire time. I guess it's quite a sight to see a blonde white girl around here. I'm very tall compared to everyone (weird!) We use buckets to shower, wash clothes, etc. It fun to learn a new lifestyle and eat native Philippino food. The best thing I've tried so far is "Lumpia" - they are like little egg rolls, but better. yum! We ride in "Jeepneys" a lot - they are very colorful buses that cost 7 pesos for each ride. I'm still trying to understand how things work here. I feel very lost but I hope I will adjust quickly.

We arrived at President Jensen's at 11:30 PM on Wednesday. The bus ride was interesting. We had SO many solicitors! I think they had some sort of deal with the bus driver, because at street corners they would ask if there were Americans on board and then the bus driver would let them on board to walk down the isle selling their goods. I enjoyed contacting people on the way over here. In Los Angeles, I met a nice lady from the Philippines named Agnus. Sister Young, Sister Parks, and I shared with her our purpose as missionaries. Agnus had seen the Manila temple before but didn't know much about Mormons. I was able to give her a pass-along card with a picture of the temple. On the plane, I was able to talk with a Vietnamese man named Peter, who spoke very limited English. He is Catholic and has studied Theology at a university. We talked about the scriptures, and I was able to show him my standard works, including the Book of Mormon, which he had never heard of, so I shared with him what it was all about. He seemed intrigued. We also talked about families and I showed him a picture of our family. Next to it was a picture of the Manti Temple, and he asked about it. I shared with him about how the temple is a "very special place for families" and bore my testimony to him about how families can be together forever. Peter loves to read the scriptures online and so I gave him the church website so that he could get access to the Standard works online in Vietnamese. It was a neat experience to talk with him. I've noticed that many people see our nametags and ask about who we are. The first thing they see is the name "Jesus Christ." It is always a good reminder to me to always act in a way that represents Him.

For Christmas I will be able to talk to you for 1 hour! I'm not sure exactly when I will call but I'll try to make it a time when you are all awake.

I love you very much. I hope all is well. Please pray for me to adjust quickly and to learn the language. I really need your prayers right now.

I love you all,

Monday, December 14, 2009

Today is exciting!

Hi! How are you????? Magandang Pasko! (Merry Christmas) Today's the big day. I can't believe it's already here. I feel like we just got here. On Saturday, Sister Leatham and Brother Doria shared some special mission stories and photos from their own missions for our last day with them. Guess what? Elaine S. Dalton, YW General President, came to speak in Relief Society yesterday! It made me very happy because she is one of my favorite speakers. On Tuesday last week, Elder Costa from the 70 spoke to us, which was soooo good!On Wednesday I got to be a host again. I hosted 3 new sisters - one going to Georgia Atlanta, one to Hondurus, and another to Temple Square (she was from India and was soooooo sweet!). On Thursday, our whole district wore blue, just because. Even our teachers (well, Brother Doria fully intended to, but he forgot). On Friday, we went on another field trip for Sis. Parks. She is doing better - we are all going to the Philippines! We'll just hope and pray that things stay fine when she's down there. Also on Friday, Sister Leatham had us do a "Day in the field" where we prepared lessons for 7 different people, but only 3 of them end up being taught (teachers who pretend to be investigators) and then we do a half-hour of contacting. It wasn't as much as we would normally do in a day in the field, but it was fun to get a little taste. On Friday, the fire alarm went off in the sisters' residence hall in the middle of the night. We had to evacuate in our pajamas in the snow. It was actually quite fun :) After about 20 mintues, they let us back in.
Last night, the BYU Men's chorus came to sing at our fireside. It was great, although someone very special was missing! ;)

Well, I'm excited to talk to you on the phone! I'll probably try to call at 7:30 - the home phone. I've heard that I'll have 1 hour for emails in the field. Also, our teachers informed us that we will be doing all our laundry by hand, which will take up a chunk of our P-day. So I'm sorry if I don't have much time to write letters! I love you very much!

Ingat! Mahal Kita!
Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm going to miss December 15th! :)

Okay I got my flight plans, yippee! I'm leaving on Monday, not Tuesday! We leave the MTC at 4:30 PM, and then we will take the 8:25 flight to L.A. California. So I'll be able to call you either at the SLC airport or CA I think. At 11:30 PM, we'll leave Los Ang. and cross the international dateline, arriving in Taipe Taiwan at 6:10 AM on December 16th! So you all will have to let me know how the 15th was because I'll never experience December 15th, 2009! Crazy eh? :) We have a 3 hour layover in Taiwan and then we take the 9:30 AM flight to Manila! Yay! It's sure going to be an adventure. I can't wait! There are about 48 of us going to the Philippines - 12 are going to Baguio with me! So there you have it.

Well, this week has been wonderful. How did you like the 1st Presidency Christmas devotional last night? Wasn't it great? I loved it! Especially President Monson's message. The MTC taped it at 6 and then let us watch it at our weekly fireside. The MTC also has lots of Christmas lights up in the trees and a nativity set outside. And now that we have lots of snow, it feels so Christmasy! It will be weird to leave this winter wonderland and have my first warm tropical Christmas.

The reason my email is later today is because we had to go on another "field trip" to the doctor for Sister Parks. She is still having some stomach problems, and we will need to go back on Friday for a return appointment. She found out today that she may be facing the decision of whether to go to the Philippines or whether to stay and serve her mission stateside where better medical services are available. So needless to say, it's been a pretty emotionally difficult day. Please pray for her. She has worked so hard in learning Tagalog and we're all so excited. I hope everything will resolve itslef and that we will all be able to leave together. I love my companions!

Every Wednesday morning we have a service assignment cleaning the showers in the sisters' residence hall. So by the time we get out of here, we are going to be epxert shower cleaners! My companions and I like to sing Christmas songs and Primary songs together while we clean. Oh, I found out that Sister Young grew up on Brite music too! So occasionally we sing those together. hehe! Sister Young's parents are planning to pick her up after her mission too, and so you'll probably get to meet them! One highlight from this week was that Sister Cheryl C. Lant (the General Primary President) came to speak to us on Tuesday! And yesterday for Fast Sunday we had a big mission conference where the MTC presidency spoke to us. One of the talks was about the role of Mary as the mother of Jesus. It was so good. It made me really think about how courageous Mary must have been to accept that role. On Thursday at the TRC we taught the Plan of Salvation to Eliza, from the Philippines. We didn't understand everything she said, but we are improving. I'm nervous-excited for leaving! I don't feel completely ready, but I guess the Lord works with what He gets. I'm ready to work hard!Well I'm out of time. I love you very much! Thank you for all you do for me! I love this gospel. I'm so happy. I love sharing what makes me happy. Life is good! Take care!

P.S. thanks for the kindness from Grandma Maria and the Tuminez's that you've passed on! I hope sister Tuminez recovers well from her surgery.