Monday, January 25, 2010

Life is Wonderful!

Hello dearest favorite Boekweg-acle choir! :)
I'm happy. Hehe Daddy, how did you know that last night I dreamt of balut? ;) Actually, I'm quite excited to try it someday maybe in the near future. Yep, from the picture you sent, that looks like where I live.

This week has been wonderful. On Tuesday we had zone interviews with President Jensen, and I felt so great after my interview with him. He and Sister Jensen alway tell us to "Be of Good cheer! You're doing great! Just relax and be happy!" and that really helps for them to remind us to work hard but also to not forget to "enjoy the journey." So I'm really happy to be here in the Philippines. Some blessings this week: We have been visiting Sister Vidal, a less-active, and I felt I should bring the picture of the Savior to give to her (one of the ones you sent me in your Christmas package, where Christ is lifting the child out of the water and it says "Be not Afraid"). It was really neat because when we talked to her and found out her fears about returning to church, it was exactly what she needed, and so I gave it to her and applied it to how Christ can lift us out of our trials (water) and comfort all our fears. Also, on Saturday, we taught the first lesson to a brother (Nelson Lorenzo) and I was able to share with him 2 Nephi 28:2-4, which I had studied just that morning, to help him understand why Heavenly Father prepared the Book of Mormon for our day. It was really cool because of how I felt I should study that particular chapter that morning. Also, this brother lived the same house as a family we had talked to once before last week and kept feeling impressed that we needed to return. It's amazing to recognize how much the Spirit aids in missionary work! It makes me so happy to trust that I don't have to rely on my own talents and "eloquence in Tagalog" in order to contribute to this work. Heavenly Father knows the needs of every single person, and He wants them to receive the gospel. He works through us, and we need to willing to just mold ourselves to His will and let Him work through us in His own way.

Last night we had a dinner appointment with the Maramba family. They feed us every Sunday and always make a lot of food. It was sweet because Sister Maramba cooked chicken cordon blue just for me because she found out it was my favorite food. (how sweet is that?) The Filipinos always go out of their way to be so hospitable and kind. I have made 2 very special friends in our ward: Ana Liza Mejia and her sister Jackie. Jackie is getting baptized on Friday, and Ana Liza has been a member for almost one year. They are sweet and always give me lots of hugs at church. Filipinos are very affectionate. It makes me feel very at home in our ward.

Guess what! There's a pizza hut here. We went there with our district last week! Oh bliss :)
Here's your new word of the day: Agi! (stress the last syllable). That's an expression they use here. I'm not sure if it's Tagalog or Pangasinan - it's equivalent to "Oh my!"

For groceries every week, I usually spend about 800-1000 pesos. Eating out (i.e.KFC) is usually around 100 pesos. I think the bus ride to Manila cost about $10 in American money.

Mommy dearest, Sister Tobias discovered your "Baptism" song in my folder, and she absolutely loves it. She has been singing it all the time around the apartment this whole week :)

I love you! Take care! Thank you for your prayers!
Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hi!!! Life is happy :)

Hello! Thanks for the photos! I loved them. Wow, no I didn't hear about the big earthquake in Haiti. That's scary. What a blessing that all of the missionaries there are ok. I heard that there was one in Manila last week, but I don't think it was very big (we didn't feel it at all here).

Guess what? While proselyting, we met a couple from Rexburg Idaho! Brother and Sister Larson. The husband is American and served in the Baguio mission many years ago, and his wife is Filipino! They just retired and bought a house in our area. They visit Utah often and he knows where Mount Pleasant is. Crazy, eh??! It was fun to be able to talk to another American :)

Last week on Monday my zone officially "initiated" me (and Sister Broadhead and Lapana) into the Dagupan Zone by doing this ridiculously funny "ritual" that they call "BoogaBooga!" It reminded me of that part in Finding Nemo where they do all the chanting. My zone can be quite silly sometimes. But it's fun. One thing I've learned is that Filipinos LOVE to play games and joke around. I thought I was goofy and full of energy before I came here, but sometimes they wear me out! ;)
Oh, just to straighten things out - the address I gave you last week was just for kicks and giggles - don't send mail there. I doubt you'd be able to find it on googleearth. And it's actually Bonuan Boquig (not Gueset--whoops).
Hehehe, here they have a superstition that if you have big ears, you'll live a long life. :)

We live very close to the ocean. On Wednesday after a service project (clearing land for a garden), we got to see the Ocean! It was windy. It's is in Sis. Tobias and Sister Jover's area (my roommates). Sister Tobias has been here a month longer than me and she is being trained by sister Jover as well. Sister Garma has been here for 8 months.

This week was great. It's still very hot, but some days it is cloudy and feels quite nice. Funny thing is that all the Filipinos think it is "Malamig" (cold). It's interesting to see the different circumstances in which the people live here. Some houses are cement, some just made of bamboo and sticks, and others are like those you'd find in America. Some neat experiences have been when I've felt the spirit testify through me in lessons. We've been visiting a less-active sister who is struggling in her testimony, and I felt to remind her of the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost that she received at baptism and how important it is to retain it through enduring to the end. My Tagalog is still a little rocky, and sometimes I feel like I'm trying to climb an impossible mountain, but I then I just think of how far I've come since entering the MTC and how much Heavenly Father has helped me already. Lately, I've grown in so much appreciation for the hymns. We have such beautiful enriching lyrics in the LDS hymnbook! It seems that when facing difficulties, singing those powerful lyrics really touch my heart and cause me to tear up, because I'm singing a testimony about my feelings about the Savior's Atonement, which we all need, and which I'm so grateful is available to us all. Without it, we'd be nothing.
I love you, and I love your emails! Thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pictures from the Philippines

Layover in Taiwan

MTC Photos

Hello wonderful family!

Hello family! I tried to upload some pictures but they disappeared. I guess there's a time limit or something. I'll try again if I have time after writing this email :) Thanks for your updates on everything. I love hearing all the fun stories. I love you :)

This week was great. On Wednesday I got to go to the New Missionary Training in Baguio! It was very exciting to see all of my MTC batch mates again and to catch up with them! Also, on Wednesday I received dearelder letters from you and Sister Balinski! Thank you so much! Those made my day so happy. I am excited to have some new nephews/nieces when I return ;)

Wow, Christian is in the MTC already! That is cool that Emma is living in Wyview. If she has a bus pass, I wouldn't be surprised if she met her special someone this year! :) haha. Sister Garma tried to get me to eat Balut yesterday. I told her "Hindi pa! Hindi pa!" (not yet!) and so she is teasing me that she will cook it for me for my birthday dinner. We'll see about that ;)

Some fun facts:
Jeepney fare is 7 pesos per ride. We take the jeepney several times each day. My address is as follows: "Gueset next door to the Letty Aler Salon." Funny eh? Many of the people here are fascinated with Americans. When we are walking down the street I'll often hear little kids saying excitedly, "amerikano! amerikano!" Also, for some reason they all think I look like a barbie doll. Parents will summon their children and say "Come! look and see the barbie doll!" It makes me feel so silly! ;)

So I figured out why the language is so different than I expected. They don't speak pure Tagalog here - it's a different accent, like New York as opposed to the rest of America. And they also speak Pangasinan, another dialect. I had a cool experience this week. We were teaching a sister about the Book of Mormon and she had some concerns about how it related to the Bible. Well I couldn't understand hardly anything she was saying (the older people are really hard to understand when they speak) but I had an impression to turn to 2 Nephi 3 and find where Joseph in Egypt prophesies about the restoration. Well before I knew it, Sister Garma was reading those exact verses in answer to the sister's concern! It was so neat and reaffirmed my testimony that the Spirit truly knows what people need, even when we as missionaries may not know.

Well, I love you very much. Some days here are pretty tough but the only way we grow is by meeting resistance. I am happy. I will try to upload a couple pictures really quick and send it in another email. We'll see.

Love, Rebecca

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy 2010!

Hello! Thank you for all the emails! I'm just going to reply to them all in one big one. Hehe, I don't know if I'lll be able to answer all of your questions in one sitting, but I'll have a go at it! I love the Philippines! It's very different here in many ways, but I am learning to appreciate many of the differences. The things I've had to adjust to the most is probably bucket-showers and lack of American food available in the stores :) but I like the Filipino food. It's a good thing I like fish and rice. The mangos here are better than the ones in America. This week Sister Garma taught me how to cook Adobo. yum! At a member's house this week, they served us fried fish - they fry up the whole thing, head and all. The part I ate was just the middle part though :) It's funny, but it doesn't gross me out as much as I thought it would. We also ate Buko (coconut) after doing yard work at a member's house on Wednesday. It is sooo good! and the coconut juice is amazing! Hardest thing? not being able to understand what people are saying. And many of the people here speak English better than I speak Tagalog as of yet, and so it's kind of a weird challenge to force myself to speak the language. But everything keeps saying that it will come. I know I've been called to serve here for a reason, and as long as I'm working hard and being obedient, Heavenly Father will lend a hand. I'm so glad that smiles and hugs are not limited to langauge barriers - those are understood wherever we go in the world. Our area is newly opened and we have several investigators that we are teaching. However, we are going to be focusing on "finding" these next few weeks. We're focusing on finding fathers--because if the father is interested, we will likely be able to teach the whole family together. yay! Oh and get this: One of the main roads in my area is named "Boquig." I guess it must be inspired that sister "Boekweg" is serving here! ;)

thanks for sending the photos! I loved them! Hehe, Lisa, those look like some way comfy pajamas :) Cute! You have new sunbeams! I miss our little sunbeams :)

We have church at 8:30 AM - I like our church. It almost reminds me of a setup you'd see for a hotel in California. It has a court yard in the middle with palm trees and 2 stories. We get 7600 pesos per month. They gave us a visa card - we usually withdraw from it at the Nepo Mall and just use cash for everything. I still am figuring out how much everything costs here. But I'm sure that'll be sufficient for our needs.

Yes, I can get oil, butter, eggs, sugar, --I'm not sure about baking soda and flour yet, but I assume so. perhaps choc chips. they do have m&ms/chocolate/kitkats. (yay!) things not available: taco seasoning, chili, refried beans, most canned foods, beef jerky, chewy granola bars/healthy snacks, sour cream.

You can continue to email the ward newsletter to me - I usually just glace over it. but it's fun to hear what's going on. but if you ever are sending a package anyway, go ahead and just put the hard copy in there :)

Nope I haven't seen a lot of flood damage - well, probably because I don't know what everything looked like before I came here. But I heard that the big mall in Rosales was flooded to the second floor a few months ago. It's all up and running fine now though :)

I still don't know how to upload pictures or if the computuer has a memory card reader/USB port. I don't see one. We're running short on time today, so I'll have to ask someone maybe next week. If all else fails, I'll send it in the mail, though before I do that I'd want to make sure I find someway to make another copy. I think I'm going to talk to some of the other American missionaries to see what they do to send pictures home.

That's cool you got a laptop! Good luck in the singing! Once again, thank you so much for the wonderful Christmas packages from you! I am still enjoying those Andes Mints. Thank you! You know me very well!

Wow, that sounds like a scary drive throught the snowy canyon. I am so glad that you made it home safely! I'm so grateful we are being protected by Heavenly Father. Keep staying safe!
Got to go! I love you!
Love, Rebecca
P.S. your dearelder letter arrived to me on Saturday. Thanks!