Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Update: part 2

So I wrote that part in January, still really unsure where life was going, but in an effort to keep people posted. Well, I didn't end up finishing it until now (April 8) so that was kinda a fail.

Wow, It has been about 2.5 months since I wrote. And so much has changed. I tried to drop half my classes and still continue, I even kept attending the lectures of my dropped classes to make it easier for when I actually had to take them, but things kept getting worse. My doctor at the time put me on antibiotics and tried to give me ADD meds to stay awake and nausea medicine, but nothing was really helping. The straw that broke the camels back was a accidentally ate gluten a week or two later and that knocked me out for a whole week. I tried SO hard to keep going, keep up with classes and homework, but it was physically impossible. In a very hard decision, but VERY inspired, I withdrew from all my classes and decided on focusing the rest of the semester on resting, doctors appointments, healthy eating and general recovery. I decided to stay in Utah for this recovery and not return back to my parent's house in Texas mostly because I've heard how hard it is to stay positive and many cases of Lyme are also followed by depression and I didn't think my mental health could handle it. Through it all, I'm so grateful for Provo. For the fact I live with my best friends and the nicest people on the planet. For the fact I have so many mission friends around and I get to see them so frequently. For the MTC just up the street and for my opportunity to use my Cebuano to serve others. For the temple just down the road and for my chances to serve in my student ward as visiting teacher and Sunday school teacher. To be able to serve and feel needed. Service is the best way to handle something hard because it gives you a chance to truly forget yourself and focus on others. It's the best medicine.

My mom was also kind enough to drive up here for 2 weeks and help me navigate doctors and what to do next. People have been SO nice and have given so many recommendations, but after doctor #4, I made my mom promise that we would see these through rather than going from doctor to doctor to doctor and never really following through.

#1 To his credit, he FOUND my Lyme disease which is really difficult apparently. But his treatment was to take various antibiotics for a year which we were willing to try. Problems: super hard to keep in touch with, he gave me no expectations (timeline, symptoms, etc.). At one point, my symptoms got way worse, but for all I knew, that was normal! When my mom told the nurse, she said, well of course you should call as soon as something is wrong! But I had no idea. It was hard.

#2 Basically only took me because of my positive blood test. Even ran it again just to be sure- Yep! Same results. Definitely positive. His treatment was an antibiotic via IV for 30 days. EVERY SINGLE DAY. My mom and I weren't convinced that was all it took based on all our research, but we figured it was worth a shot and a quick way (relatively) to rule out one of our options. Problems: even though I had the positive blood test, he kinda made me feel like I was crazy, like it was all in my head. I've been through that quite a bit on my medical journey and it is hard! I saw him every week throughout the treatment (Feb 20-March 22) and my main complaints (fatigue and nausea) Didn't really improve. Like at all. I'm just so glad I didn't invest all my hope in that treatment because that would've been really discouraging. But the whole time he was asking if I was going back to school and exercising everyday, no, crazy! I have zero desire to do that, because nothing has changed! Most of all, he just made me feel like my symptoms were not a big deal and it's a part of life. Which made me mad because I didn't just drop my classes because I got this positive blood test. I tried and tried and tried and pushed myself to the limit of my physical and mental and emotional capacity, and this guy just wasn't really buying it. By the end, I kinda just ignored everything he said and was excited to be done with it.

#3 By far my favorite. He is a naturopathic doctor and I never thought I would choose this alternative approach, but I strangely have the most faith in him. He just seemed to understand. He didn't make me feel like I was crazy. He made me feel like-"woah, your body is really messed up and it will take a lot of different approaches and it won't be an easy fix, but you will get better. You will be able to move on with your life." He gave me hope. I actually started seeing this doctor about a week after Doctor #2 because he really gave me perspective. It made sense to me that I would need to change my diet (avoid dairy and sugars) and that my body needed supplements to help it fight off these multiple infections ( I tested positive for 3 herpes viruses that like to come back when your immune is shot like, you know, when it's destroyed by Lyme disease.) It just really made sense! Also, it's no coincidence that every single person who has said they or a friend had Lyme disease recommended alternative approaches to medicine. I think all the normal doctors just made them feel a little crazy.

So here I am, April 8, 2015. I'm taking lots of supplements, on an alkaline diet, and a homeopathic therapy where I take a mouthful of gross liquid stuff every 3 days for the next 2 months. I sleep until 1pm everyday. I sit on my couch and rest like it's my day job. I read the newspaper, lots of books, watch netflix, enjoy listening to General Conference talks, eating fruits and vegetables and talking to my friends. Occasionally I'll attend a living Prophets class on campus. Occasionally I'll play a game of basketball or tennis (that's a new one) or frisbee or (insert sport here). I don't know when I'll finish school, I don't know when I'll stop being tired, I don't know my summer plans, and I don't know what my future holds, BUT I do know that I have a loving Heavenly Father who has a plan for me. I do know that his son, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for me so that I will not be alone during the hard times. I do know HE is the PRINCE of PEACE and I have been given that peace in abundance that speaks to me saying, "everything will be alright". I do know that this sickness is helping me develop the Christ-like attributes of patience, humility, long-suffering, trust, faith, diligence, hope and obedience. I do know that I want to draw near unto Him in every moment because that's what gives me true happiness. And to quote Elder Teixiera from general conference, "I know by personal experience that the joy of living in righteousness and abiding in Christ can continue despite the tribulations characteristic of mortality." And I do know that I am happy. This is an update of my life:)

Until I get around to updating you again,

An Update: Sister Pike in 2015.

-I wrote this January 26, 2015-

Hello! So I'm back from my mission in the Philippines and I've been home for just over 6 months. So what now? A few months ago, my mom was saying how much she missed my letters and how so many people were asking about me and wanted to know how I was doing. I kinda brushed it off, I'm no blogger! But things have changed and for some reason unbeknownst to me, I feel the need to share this. 

If any of you know anything about my mission in the Philippines Tacloban Mission, you will know one thing. It was crazy. Seriously. Who knew someone could have so many things happen to them in a short amount of time! Mysterious virus...crazy bad eye infection...super typhoon...more mysterious sicknesses... It really is a miracle I made it through! The last month of my mission was particularly rough and I was super sick the whole time! So President Andaya told me to go home a transfer early. Actually he said I think you should but you should definitely pray about it. So I did! It was hard initially, but I received a strong confirmation that it was the right thing so I moved forward and never looked back! When I finally got home, I was still sick and had nearly reached celebrity status in my ward. "Ohmygosh, you don't know me but I've heard all about you and your mission was so hard you are just so amazing. I'm so sorry...blah, blah, blah." Don't get me wrong, I appreciate these people and their concern for me, but I just felt so unable to tell my side of the story! It's like they didn't get it! Every time this happened I just wanted to scream, "DON'T BE SORRY! I loved my mission. Every second of it. Every sick day (143) included.  If I could change anything, I would change nothing at all. Yeah, all these things were really hard and challenging, but I LEARNED! I GREW! And that's the whole point. I saw miracles. Developed a personal relationship with my Savior. Came to learn of my own nothingness, but also the incredible ability of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to make us better, stronger than we ever could have on our own. Not to mention all the incredible blessings I received: angel companions, other missionaries, Mission Presidents and their wives, so many people who looked after me and loved me and helped me in countless ways. But unfortunately it's really hard to bear testimony of these things in 2 second conversations with strangers. So I would just smile and say thank you and lament their distorted view of my reality. And I felt the same way about the super typhoon! How do you answer a question in passing, "How was the typhoon?" Uh...It was hard? But nothing I really say to you in this 5 minute conversation can really cover my true feelings on it. So why bother?

Now, you're all probably thinking, what does this have to do with your life 7 months later? Good question. Fast forward to August. After spending a month in bed reading 15 novels and being too nauseous and weak to really do anything with my life except to be dragged to various doctor appointments, FINALLY an answer came. FINALLY! Do you know what's worse than being sick? Not knowing anything about it. Really. It's the worst. Mostly because you need to reality check yourself all the time. Is this real? Or is it in my head? Will this prevent me from living a normal life? No one knows. The answer: I do not have Celiac disease, but I am gluten intolerant! Is that even possible? Yes. What is my reaction? If I accidentally eat some, which has happened a few times, I'm totally fine for 3 days then I die essentially. Both times I stay in my room and sleep ALL day and have really bad stomach pains which linger for about a week as drag myself around trying to keep up in school. I've learned quickly that I don't ever want to accidentally eat gluten ever again. Answer part 2: I have a weird chemical imbalance which I need supplements to fix so between these pills and my new gluten-free diet, I got better! Woohoo! After 3.5 months of weakness, tiredness and constant nausea, I was ecstatic. I was able to return back to BYU! Play basketball again! Racquetball again! Reunite with some of my favorite people in the world! Life was good. Really, really good. 

BUT...I still got pretty sick. Luckily, my sister and I worked out a pretty easy schedule so I could ease my way back to school and I was able to mostly survive the semester, but the huge problem was every time I would have a major test, I would get way sick! Can you say, worst timing ever? It was horrible. Don't even get me started on finals was a nightmare to say the least. But I survived with mostly okay grades and that was that. When my family came up for Christmas break, she took me to a specialist, highly recommended, dealing with fatigue problems which was perfect timing because all throughout the semester I had problems on and off but after finals week and the start of Christmas break, it wasn't going anywhere. Constant nausea and weakness/tiredness, it's not that easy! So he looked at my ginormous file of medical records and tests and told me that I probably have a disease or virus that I picked up in the Philippines that my body can fight MOST of the time but when it gets stressed or sick from other things, it's just too much to handle and it comes back. It made so much sense! So he ordered about 30 blood tests and waited to figure it out. 

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago. Still kinda nauseous and tired, but mostly super excited for a new start. New classes that will be difficult and challenging. New year. I'm pumped. I had been taking probiotics and stomach enzymes to help my stomach to no avail. And that's when it started going downhill. I would get done with my classes at noon and NEED to go home and take a nap. Getting out of bed to go to class in the morning was a huge chore. There were multiple times I would be at home and stand up to go somewhere only to dive to the floor because I was so weak! And then I proceeded to laugh like a crazy person because of the ridiculousness of the situation. Needless to say, my roommates were worried. My parents were worried. I was worried about my complete inability to do my homework and get the things done that I need to. I was given a pill that would help my energy and I was supposed to be getting better, but it just felt like I was getting worse! My energy was so crazy, my endurance was about 3 hours then I would just crash! All the while, I attended all of my classes, saw my friends on campus, went to basketball games, went to my Zumba class with a smile on my face. No one had any idea. They still don't, actually. My roommates, they see it all, but 95% of my day-to-day interactions have no clue. I think it's hilarious. Am I really that good of an actor? Or maybe it's because most of my day-to-day interactions see me in my good hours of the day. 

On Thursday, my mom called and said the doctor got my tests back and say it's positive for Lyme disease! What is that? I don't even know. So finally, long overdue, I asked for a priesthood blessing. Can I just say blessings are the best?! Seriously, my life would be 500x more difficult without them. I didn't receive a blessing of some miraculous healing, but I did receive some much needed guidance, direction and comfort and often, at least for me, that's all I really need. I received a blessing to learn to manage my symptoms, to learn what treatment to do, to learn his will and follow his desires for my life, to turn to the scriptures and prayer for guidance and as always, to continue to radiate happiness and my love of the Savior.

Soon after, I headed up to Bear Lake for a weekend long mission reunion. I still wasn't feeling great, but it was exactly what I needed. All these people asked about how my sickness was doing and I could give them a real answer! They are all well acquainted with everything that happened my mission. These people know me. They were with me through all the months and months of hard things and they just get it! No more hiding what I'm really feeling, no more pretending everything is alright. I still had to take naps and opt out of activities due to weakness, but I just loved being around everyone, talking and laughing, it was the best!

Tuesday was rough. Still behind on homework. Still weak. tired. very nauseous. unmotivated. And while talking with my parents and sisters, it became very clear that I needed to drop some classes in order to keep up with everything and keep my stress low. But I was optimistic. I was gonna keep going and doing the best that I can. My life was seriously about to change. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Week 74 - 6/22/2014 MRC

Hello from the MRC! I still have no idea when I'm headed out so sorry to keep you on your toes :) I'm thinking sometime between now and Friday... that really narrows it down haha This week has just flown by so fast, I can't even believe it! The people here keep saying, You should do this so you're not bored to death! And I'm not even close to bored! I feel like there is so much to do, I can hardly get it all done. I've gone to the temple a few times which is wonderful, we watch movies, go to the distribution center, play the piano, but my favorite thing is just talking with the other missionaries that are here. There have been lots of sisters and they make it so much fun. The couple that was here before (the Woods) went home 10 days before I got here, SO CLOSE! But The Carly's from the MTC have been taking care of us until the new MRC couple, the Kastellars got here on Friday. It's been really fun being with them because they are brand new to the Philippines so we get to teach them about it. Like mangos and eating with a fork and spoon... I haven't been around someone fresh from America in a LONG time! It's been fun. I'm also glad I'm here before I go home so I won't be AS culture shocked haha already have air conditioning, hot showers, lots of American food, getting used to speaking JUST English because the senior couples don't know any Tagalog but it's hard! Just getting rid of the little words. 

Being in Tacloban seems SO long ago but I'll try to remember it! I arrived in the mission office at about 12 and I just hung out with the office elders who were moving in. The office used to be in Burgos chapel in just a room while they were fixing up the office which was ruined in the storm but it's back now! Perfect timing for me. All the elders asked me if anyone knew, if my batch knew. "No, no one knows! Not even my family knows!" So one of them gave me there phone and let me call anyone in the mission. It was basically the greatest thing ever! They were all shocked, but I was really grateful I was able to tell them so they understood how happy I was and how at peace I was cause it would be TOTALLY different if they just randomly heard from another missionary. Oh yeah! She went home! And then they took me to email and Sister Kramer was in a nearby area so she came over and visited me. I was supposed to go with some other sisters but on my way back to the office, President Andaya called the AP's and said, "I have a companion for Sister Pike", and it was Sister Gaono! Seriously, made my life. Then President Andaya took us out for dinner, it was just the 3 of us and he is seriously the coolest person ever. The most humble man you will ever meet. And hilarious. It was so fun! And then later, since all the Tacloban sisters have a 6 pm curfew, they took us to their apartment where I just got to talk with Sister Nelson until we went to bed! It was so great. And I brought a bunch of clothes that I wasn't going to take with me which was PERFECT cause Sister Gaono needed some, and my extra shoes too! And I also got to see Sister Ralph and Bray who were staying there because Sister Bray was so sick and I was happy to see them and get to say good-bye to them too. I just got to see and hang out with so many people! It was the BEST.

 I had asked what my agenda was the next day and they all just said, "do whatever you want! You just have your exit interview and departure devotional later on in the day." So I didn't really know what to do the next morning... then I realized I didn't have a companion so I needed to go with all the other sisters anyway! So I went to Zone Training Meeting again for Tacloban zone, even though I just went last week. And even though it was technically the same training, it was different zone leaders, so I got a lot more out of it. And I LOVED it. Because last week when we had it, I had no idea I was going home! So it's tradition for all the departing missionaries to bear their testimonies in the meeting but I didn't know it would be my last! And then this time, I got my chance and I was so grateful. And that I got to spend more time with people that I love. And then President Andaya took the departing missionaries out to lunch- E. Landingin, E. Furio, E. Lagata and me. If you knew these people, you would understand that it was hilarious. E. Landingin said, "Sister, you made my dreams come true! I always wanted a sister in our batch!" and he also said, "Sister, I'm sorry I stole one of your transfers." cause he was our AP and he extended one transfer. He's so great. I'm gonna miss these people! And then I had my exit interview, we went to McArthur park for the LAST time and then we went to the mission home and had our departure devotional. We just had a testimony meeting and the Andaya's gave their last trainings. aw. Something really cool about this was that Sister Tumala was there and she is sister that went home a few months ago and she was supposed to go home with us so she came back and visited all her areas and she joined us in the departure devotional that was supposed to be hers. It was so sweet of them to treat her like she was just another one of us! And I said good-bye to the Andaya's for the last time. I love them so much! For some reason, it was easier to think of me leaving first than when I thought they would be leaving before me in the mission.  

Wednesday, I was supposed to ready at 5 so I set my alarm for 4:30 and I borrowed the other sister's cell phone but I forgot to check the volume and I woke up at 5:05 to the sound of the other sister leaving! It felt like extreme de ja vu of what happened the morning I left the MTC! So I got ready in like a second and I rode with Elder Marlin and Maramba to the airport. Turns out the ticket only allows 10 kg... that was expensive paying the overage fees and stressful. But I've heard leaving from manila we get 46kg in luggage plus a 7 kg carry-on which should be plenty. And then I left Tacloban forever! My brain still can't quite process it. Especially since I've been here in Manila for almost a week, I can't even believe I'm actually going home! I got fingerprinted right when I landed and from there, the process takes about 7-10 days. And that's all I know! And then being here in the MRC, I definitely see how incredibly good my situation was going home was. Seriously, the next best thing. Right now, I'm with another sister who came here with enough things to last a week and then found out she was going home so her companion packed all her things and sent it to her here. She didn't get to see a single member, a single missionary, not even her mission president. She still has six months left! I couldn't imagine. I got nothing on that! I feel so incredibly blessed. It's all about perspective, right? I love you all!

Sister Pike  
Lunch at a fancy restaurant a few weeks back. We had fajitas!! That's crazy!

Me and Sister Clarin at the CSP!

The Polynesians and the most legit haka ever!!

All of us with our MTC teacher, Brother Pasikala! Who came to volunteer.

The cutest kid ever.

Waiting around after zone training meeting with Sister Clarin

Catbalogan Zone!

Sister Clarin hiding from the sun on the bus ride home haha

Zone interviews with all the sisters (minus Sister Henshaw and Delfin)

My housemates - so cute and hilarious!

Making mango float for the last time!

On Saturday, my second to last day, we had no water ALL day!!! So it was a very happy sight when we saw it coming out of the faucet and could actually do our dishes.

Our Harry Potter broomsticks :)

We got our packages to open on the bus ride home!

At the MRC

Our FHE!

Saturday was crazy because we didn't have water, right? So I couldn't get up that morning, like at all. So when I woke up at 10, I was all sweaty and gross but was told we had no water! except a tiny bit that we were using to fill up buckets but we would need to use it sparingly because we didn't know when it would turn off again. So we waited and ate and continued then at about 1:30 it started to rain so Sister Brown went up to the roof to enjoy the rain. At first I though, I'm sick I probably shouldn't... but this is my last chance to shower on the roof ever!! So I went for it. At first it wasn't strong enough but then it started coming down! And we both shampooed our hair, had a suds fight which was SO fun and it was strong enough and long enough that we were able to rinse and even condition and rinse our hair completely out! It was a huge blessing because we were able to get completely clean and still ration our water for dishes and stuff. Usually when I shower on the roof, it's not strong enough so I need to fill up a bucket to finish it off but we didn't! Great memories. Right after, we found out we needed to go do a bunch of stuff because that was the last day to buy all the stuff I needed so it was just the thing to wake me up and get ready to go!

Baptism Sunday Morning

Last day at church!

We were fed bico and spaghetti! (typical party food)

And we made sure to save room for our spaghetti Sundays!

Last planning session

Saying goodbye...

Sister Clarin hiding from the sun haha

San Juanico bridge for the last time - famous in the Philippines as the longest bridge!

here is a HUGE tender mercy, I GOT TO SEE SISTER GAONO! She went home from Cebu after the typhoon for trauma and I heard she was coming back but all I heard was "soon". And when I found out I was leaving early, I said, just watch, I'll leave Wednesday morning and she will get here in the afternoon and we'll never see each other ever again. But she got there on Monday!!! And we were companions for a day which was so great. Such a blessing

Monday, June 16, 2014

Week 73 - 6/16/2014 THE END!

Hello! So, this week has been the craziest week of my mission!!!!! And I know what you're thinking... Sister pike, you've had the craziest mission in the history of the world, how on earth could it possibly get more crazy than that? Just wait and see. Brace yourselves. I'm telling you, this is big!!! Here goes nothing... Right now, I'm in Tacloban, bags packed because... I'M COMING HOME!!!! This is not a joke. I'm coming home a transfer early. And guess what? I'm happy! I'm excited! I'm completely and totally at peace. And you're probably like, what!? Sister Pike LOVED her mission. Loves the Philippines and had a hard time wrapping my brain around going home in just 7 weeks and it was changed to just one in a second. But it's true! And that's the miracle. Here's what happened. 

I've been taking the medicine and it wasn't really working so Sister Andaya was just following up and I didn't worry at all because they were coming for Zone Interviews on Wednesday. So they came! It was good! It was there last event that we would see them at so it was kinda sad. I talked to sister Andaya for a good long while. About my diet, about setting my next doctor appointment, she wanted me to finish out my medicine and then go. And then I go in for my last interview with President! (or so I thought). Hello, How's your area sister? We talk... "I'm sick still so we haven't gotten to work too much." And then the bomb hits... "We're really worried about you sister, maybe you should just go home and rest and get all better." my thoughts-nooo!!! I would die! "When do you go home sister?" "Next transfer po. July" "Oh! So you can just go home one transfer early! You can be our batch! Maybe you can just go home and rest and get all better than you can be a missionary there in home without the nametag. You have served a successful mission, sister. You have served with all your heart and strength." And I was speechless. And crying. It felt a little bit as if I had tripped at the finish line. Sooo close! but not quite. And like a very wise mission president, He counseled that I should pray about it and that was that. So I wiped my tears and walked out, met up with Sister Brown, "How was the interview?" "Hard" and I just broke down right there in the hallway and cried while Sister Brown held me. She's so good to me. I was super embarrassed, I hate crying! We still had to finish and I had to act like a normal person like everything was okay. But every time it came up, I couldn't help but cry! It was pretty terrible. After that we went home and just talked. I talked about how I just had this vision of going home. Meeting up with my batch. Excited to come home but now I was so afraid that I wouldn't want to go home! That I would just be miserable! That right when I saw my family I would just cry cause I didn't get to finish my mission and I didn't want to be there. She listened, we talked and then I went to the roof to be alone and just prayed my heart out and cried a lot. And wrote everything down in my journal. I can only think of one other time I have ever cried and prayed so hard in my life and that was in Manila when I thought I was going home 11 months ago. It was like de ja vu. But I knew since the second President talked to me that this was going to be different. But here's the crazy part. When I walked down from the roof top an hour and a half later, I was happy. I was content. I was looking forward to going home. My will was changed. My whole heart and every desire.  That's how you learn just how powerful prayer is. Sometimes the miracle is manifest in healing of sicknesses, or of changing our circumstances and sometimes the huge miracle is the mighty change within ourselves. I received a blessing that night and through the words of Elder Hughes, I felt so much love from my Heavenly Father. 

"Over the next few days, you will know what you need to do and with that knowledge will come peace. And that you know your Heavenly Father loves you is always watching over you and has a plan for you. He will give you the strength to fulfill His plan for you. He will give you the strength to fulfill the mission HE has called you to. Have the faith to see the miracles that are all around you. Through your example, everyone around you will be able to see the care of our loving Heavenly Father."

And that's when I knew that this was his plan all along. He called to me this mission, and he is releasing me from it. He never intended me to serve until July. I was done. And over the next few days, I was still sick but I was able to finish off strong. And I was also able to see the miracles that have been preparing me for this. All the goals I set. All the things I bought. I had left nothing undone. I was ready in just a matter of days. Sunday was like the funniest thing ever. Seriously the most bizarre and enjoyable Sunday ever and basically the Sister Pike show. I was a speaker, taught gospel principles, prayed every other time, bore my testimony in MCM, members fed us, we took pictures and I even taught a lesson! It was literally like the best last day ever. And I didn't even cry! I'm just happy and totally at peace. And excited! I'll be seeing you soon! And I'll be seeing a doctor soon! Which is probably what I'm most excited about haha and I'll be resting and getting better. It's such a blessing. I'm batch with the Andaya's. I'm going home like normal (on the cycle, not just me by myself) and it's ONLY 6 weeks early. That's a HUGE miracle! That's like nothing. I feel so blessed with all of my mission experiences. 

Don't have a panic attack about when because we have no idea yet... I'm going to Manila for a while because they haven't processed any of my travel plans so it might be another week or so... but I get to go back to my favorite place, the MRC! And also, I figured, my mission has always been crazy and unpredictable so why should I expect the way it ended to be any different. haha And lot's more crazy experiences happened which I'm excited to tell you in person! That's crazy. Happy Father's Day Dad! And Sister Brown said, the more I think of if, the more your mom is just going to die of happiness. She gets what she always wanted. I love you all! Thanks for the support and the love, you have helped me so much. Next time I email, I will have left the Philippines Tacloban Mission forever. Whoa.  

Sister Pike

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Week 72 - 6/8/2014

Hello Family, 
Great week! Still kinda sick pero a lot happened and it was so great! We went to Tacloban TWICE. The first time for a mission csp (community service project) to clean up a park in Tacloban and then we went back home and then Sister Andaya told me to come back on Saturday for a doctors appt. We expected to stay for a while just in case of testing and stuff but she gave me medicine and I was out in like 10 minutes! Super great. 
For the service project, we rode to Tacloban on Wednesday night and stayed the night in Palo (a place just outside of Tacloban). It was so fascinating talking with Sister Kramer and Duke about the work that was happening in their area. They just opened the area this transfer and everyone expected that they would have TONS of baptisms because of the tragedy they just went through but they said it's like the same. But they also said it was really hard because all the members and stuff are just still not over it. Every single conversation starts with where they were during the storm and what happened. Their survival stories and they said they just cry a lot. And they're afraid to ask them where people are cause many times the answer is just, "they washed away." The members there all say that the numbers of death from the news only counted those in Tacloban city and not the surrounding areas which were hit just as hard. It's fascinating to see how every area really reacted so differently! And then I talked to Sister Vea who is in San Jose, where the sisters were that almost drowned, just 30 minutes away, and she said their work is exploding! People literally see them walking down the street and ask, "are you Mormons? Can you teach us?" And they don't have enough time for them all! It's amazing! She's training a new missionary and I told her, "don't get used to this! No other area in the world is like this but enjoy it while you can!" Thursday morning we worked at the park and it was SO good to see everyone! We did a lot of work, cutting grass, pulling weeds, still looks pretty bad but better! And don't worry mom, I rested LOTS and mostly just sat in the shade and supervised haha I'm just fascinated how up and running Tacloban is in general. The hospital is in better shape than it was before! They sure know how to rebuild and get things done! 
After the CSP, we went and showered and got cleaned up and had our last mission gathering with the Andayas ever! It was so great, but so sad! We all went up to shake hands/ hug them and I didn't even realize how big of a deal it was (because I know I'll see them next week at zone interviews) until I saw sister Andaya crying and I then I realized this is literally the last time they will see a lot of these missionaries ever. So sad! And then afterward, a bunch of Polynesians performed the most legit haka that I ever seen in my life! Super legit/ scary. And I FINALLY received my birthday package!!! whoot whoo! just 4 months late, but it provided excellent entertainment for the bus ride home and sister brown got a package too so we got lots and treats and shared with everyone. And I love the calendar! and the pillow case really is such great quality! 
Missionary moments- finally! haha On the bus ride home from Tacloban on Saturday, when I went to the doctor, I talked to this really awesome guy! The bus ride was 3 hours and I basically taught like 3 lessons in that time! He was so cool. Too bad he's from farther up north and not in our area, but it was so cool talking to him cause he was raised roman catholic but he said when he was in high school, he started reading the bible and began to see that they practiced many false traditions that came from different cultures that are not found in the bible like worshiping saints and infant baptism. Do you know how rare it is to find a person like this?! He was quoting the bible left and right and I was able to use all of the scriptures he used to help him understand the restoration, the Book of Mormon, baptism, it was so cool! I really hope he follows through and finds our church there, he would be such a great member! It was a really neat experience just to realize that there really are amazing people all around us. Sister Brown wasn't sitting next to me, but she said she could overhear and all she could think was, "how have the missionaries not found this guy yet?" 
And then yesterday, a member brought his cousin to church and we had the opportunity to teach him and his family last night and it was such a good lesson! Members’ referrals are the best! Especially when they bring them to church without even being taught! So that's a very, very bright prospect and we're excited to continue teaching them. And I just found out Crystal and Renaldo got baptized in Dumaguete! (he's the one with the mullet that I found just through street contacting) It's harder to baptize that way, but not impossible :) So great to hear about previous areas and that the work continues! 
Still kinda sick, but hopefully this medicine will do the trick and I'll be back ready to finish my mission strong:) thank you for all your support and prayers, I feel like the most blessed missionary ever!

Love, Sister Pike
My MTC teacher Bro. Pasikala came up with a group of RM's to do service projects so we joined.

Everyone got a little sun from the service project...