Sunday, December 27, 2009

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,

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