Monday, March 25, 2013

Week 7 - 3/18/2013 - Greetings from the Philippines!

Hey guess what?? I'm actually here! I still can't believe it. So we left the MTC at 4 am on Monday morning and we arrived at our mission office 8pm Tuesday night, but it was 11 am Wednesday in the Philippines. Talk about tiring! But it actually wasn't too bad. And weird, I feel like I'm already pretty adjusted to Filipino culture even though I've been in my area for two days! And I haven't had any trouble at all adjusting to the time, I can always fall to sleep perfectly each night and when I wake up at 6:30, it's so bright I feel like I slept in! I haven't used an alarm clock all week! So when we got to Tacloban on Wednesday morning, we were interviewed by the President Andaya and we ate at their house for lunch and dinner. It was SO good. Definitely love the food. Lots of meat and rice and pineapples and bananas. Our batch was all there together, 13 from the Provo MTC and 4 from the Philippines and they were from Bisaya so they already know Bisayan(Cebuano). The sisters stayed in a Hotel with aircon and hot showers so it didn't really feel much different. We stayed there for two nights while we had orientations and stuff then Friday morning we were assigned our trainers and found out our area. So I knew the possibility of me learning Waray-waray was high, but I had no idea how high! 7 out of 10 areas are Waray-waray and there are 3 different dialects S,R and H. And the other 3 are Cebuano but one is Cebuano J which replaces all the y's with j's. Kinda strange, anyway... I have been assigned in...Catarman! Speaking Waray-waray S!!! So you're telling me the language I spent the past 6 weeks learning is not the same as what I'm speaking? Yes, but turns out, they are pretty similar and I'm picking it up pretty fast. Friday we had transfer meeting and we were done by 11 then we had to travel to our areas which I found out Catarman is the farthest area north and is a 7 to 8 hour drive. We rented a van, but we didn't leave until 6:30pm so we got there around 1am, long day! And that was the most crowded van ride of my life. We fit 10 people +driver with lots of luggage, you could not have fit a single thing more in there if you tried. It was quite the adventure. And since then, we' ve been just living regular missionary life! 

2 days I've been here in Catarman, but it really feels like at least a week, but it's so good because I'm very well adjusted. We take cold bucket showers, today I washed all my clothes by hand, we don't have air conditioning and we have a one bedroom apartment and it's pretty tiny, but compared to others, we are so rich! Sister Somera is my Nanay (mother in waray-waray aka my companion who is training me) and she is the best. She is 27, 10 months into the mission and she has trained before and she is Filipina. She is so sweet, a whole head shorter than me, very soft spoken and the nicest person ever. She speaks waray-waray all the time to me so I can pick it up faster and in 2 days I can already tell a huge difference. Oh and she is a great cook, she promised to teach me how to cook some Filipino dishes, I really don't know what I would do without her. We also live with Sister Nelson (from my batch in the MTC but not in my district) and Sister Karagdag and they are so nice and also love to cook so I am basically spoiled. 

Once again, I really can't believe how well adjusted I am to the culture! I feel like I never even had a culture shock! Filipinos don't use toliet paper not because it's not available, just because they don't believe in using it at all ever and I'm kinda surprised how fast I accepted that haha. We ride around the city in petty cabs which are basically guys that ride around on bicycles with a little sidecar thing attached and you can go anywhere in the city for 5 pesos. I love them so much cause they are super cheap and you just get to ride, enjoy the city and the breeze and spend less time traveling! I would totally up for bringing this idea to the US except no one would probably be willing to work for so little. 5 pesos=1/9 of a dollar (1 dollar=45 pesos) It's crazy! Yesterday was stake conference and guess who played the piano? Me! Can you believe it? Cause I still can't. 2 weeks ago I got so nervous playing in front of like 5 people that I messed up so much, but when I played yesterday it was almost perfect. Plus, they told me to play a song that I had never heard of EVER and so I sight read it, practiced for like 5 minutes before and it actually went really well! If that is not a miracle I don't know what is. And it's funny cause no one even knew how big of a deal that was for me, but I knew! Stake conference, in the Philippines, I'm still in shock. Later that night, we went and taught 4 families and it was so great! The Ordonez family has 8 people getting baptized this Saturday! Wow! Lucky me. They have been taught by the missionaries since December and they are so great! They have the cutest kids. Get this, their names are Edmund, Analyn, Dimple, Darling, Ed & Mund (they're twins), Gwen, Revelation and Promise. I thought it was funny they had Edmund & Gwen! Reminded me of Grandma and Grandpa Homer. We also taught Nanay Gregoria who was Catholic and 76 years old but we just taught her about Baptism last night and asked if she would get baptized and she said yes! There is a rule here that they have to attend church 4 times in a row before they get baptized to make sure they stay active which even then it's hard. So her date is set for the April 20th, I really hope it goes through and I'm really looking forward to teaching her more. She has been taught a few times previously I think. I think the house that shocked me the most was Pablio and Eva. They have 3 kids and when we got to there house and walked in, it had a dirt floor and you literally could not stand up, but we then climbed a ladder to the second level which had a TV and a hammock and all the kids were playing. My first thought was this is a pretty neat setup but then I remembered, this is a house! Not a tree house that little kids play in for fun then go home! I can't even imagine raising three kids in that tiny little room, but tons of people do it everyday. Not to mention in every single lesson there were so many other noises because they lived right next to the street and basically on top of the houses next to them so it is difficult to feel reverent peace however they all showed such a firm desire to be better and listen to what we were saying despite the distractions of the world around them. It really is a miracle. They are progressing, our next goal is to get them married so they can be baptized. The work is going well! We planned our schedule for the week and we have lots of teaching appointments, I'm pretty sure we never tract, mostly referrals from members we might street contact but I'm not really sure. Well I have to go, even though I now have an hour it would seem that's not enough time! But good news, I can email ANYONE now, including friends and other family so if you want to post my email that would be great because letters take FOREVER. I love you all and I want you know that I am doing very well in the Philippines! My companion said by the end of this week I should be able to talk to anyone and by the end of the month, I should be pretty fluent. Crazy. But I've progressed so much already, I believe it! I will try to send pictures next week! 

Sister Pike           

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