Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Week 13 - 4/29/2013

Hello my beloved family! I get to call you in two weeks! Yay! I'm excited to describe some things more in detail about my life. There is just not enough time! I get to skype you and I guess on p-day?? which is your Sunday night. I should be sending the details next week. If I had a title for this week, it'd be limpyo na semana- week of cleaning. For real! Not much missionary work which was really weird but lots of work. We actually got fed twice which like never happens, but I love it! We had two CSP's this week, (community service project) and for one we helped our investigator's tatay clean the whole bus terminal (5am) and the elders in our district helped out then we ate breakfast- we ALWAYS eat after. Then the elders were moving apartments so we all went over to help them and clean it. I didn't bring very much money and I was worried that we wouldn't have enough, but we did! It was awesome. Where else can you ride to two places round trip and buy breakfast for two for 60 pesos (just over a dollar) Crazy, no? And it was a good breakfast too! Hot chocolate and 2 freshly baked bread items from the bakery. I'm gonna miss that. Then on friday we were in a trio with Sister Nelson because her companion was in Tacloban for transfers and it was super fun. We fit 3 of us in a pedicab, that was a challenge, we did it! And we did a half day mission with the youth in her ward in UEP which was fun. We gave the training then they went in companionships to visit less active members in their ward and share a message, it was really cool. 

Saturday was CRAZY! We had CSP #2 at 5 am with our ward because it was national day of service so we cleaned up the park and they fed us breakfast which was noodle soup with rolls. I LOVE that breakfast here is like any other meal, I already did that anyway and people thought I was crazy! not here! It's great. Oh and the new sisters arrived from Tacloban at 2 am because it's an 8 hour bus ride. So they slept in, then we chatted. We don't have new elders in our area yet, but they added sisters to Catarman 1st ward and they're our new apartmentmates! So we moved to our new apartment which is an adventure for sure. I'm going to miss our little house, but I love a challenge. Our new apartment is just one big room with a table and 2 dressers. To sleep we just lay our mattresses on the floor and it's like a sleepover! or camping! And for the past two days we haven't had water... and we live on the second floor. So we had carry buckets and buckets of water and store them in giant containers for washing dishes and showering. And, it was super dirty and we were trying to clean without water, we hadn't gotten the buckets yet and there was a brown out (no power) for like 6 hours. Mapaso oraora siya! (It was hot!) I told my companion, this is basically like camping except we actually are expected to look presentable haha. Luckily that night we got to go to a members house for dinner and they had SALAD! What??? I was so excited! I did not even close to realize how much I missed it until I ate a whole plate full and they gave me some to take home. There are seriously no fresh vegetables here ever, to eat fresh that is, unless you count tomatoes which I love. They are kinda different, more greenish, but I love them. The members asked me if I missed beef, and I thought why would I miss it. Then I realized I haven't eaten it since I got here! Didn't even realize. But I said, If I had it, I would probably realize how much I missed it, but I don't think about it ever so no. They do have hamburgers, but I'm pretty sure it's not real. Then when we got home (Sister Ariola and Sister Karagdag are the new sisters. Yes, I lived with S. Karagday before and she transferred one area over haha) They had cheetos and starbursts given from another american's package earlier. Man, they tasted so good! Once again, I had no idea how much I missed it until I ate it. So feel free to send me tons of packages of American junk food haha especially chocolate. So now I'm living with 3 pinay's and I love it. Last night, they were trying to teach me how to Asian squat and they laughed everytime I fell over. It was a good time. And they talk Waray-waray all the time so that will definitely help me learn even faster. My goal is to be fluent by the end of this transfer (6 weeks) we shall see. Oh and now I feel ginormous. Before I had 6 ft. tall Sister Nelson around but now I am definitely the tallest. Oh and in our new apartment, I experienced the Filipino cockroach for the first time, it's huge! And it's flies! And I see spiders in our shower, but they're tiny. And our toilet doesn't flush (you need to pour a bucket or water in then it flushes) and there is no toilet seat. It really is what I was expecting when I first came here, but our other house was seriously so nice. Pretty small and infested with ants, but very nice. And that's about it. Pretty exciting stuff! I hope we get to see all our investigators this week. We only had a few in church on Sunday, which helps us realize that most really need a visit from us before church each week (cause we visited like one investigator, no time, for real) so they are all pretty far from baptism. But we'll continue working with them of course! Seriously the weeks go by so fast, it's crazy. I'm doing great, I love you all. The end.
Gugma, Sister Pike

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 12 - 4/22/2013

Not much new to write, and not much time! Things are going great, we taught a ton of lessons this week and it really paid off! 6 investigators were at church yesterday! Yay! And I gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday in waray-nglish haha It went well, I planned on talking about the importance of going to church every week, reading everyday from the Book of Mormon and Praying but I ended up just talking about the importance of the Book of Mormon and how if we let it, it will literally change our lives. So, read the Book of Mormon everyday!!!! When I was really young, I thought what's the difference between reading a chapter everyday and reading seven chapters in one day?? It wasn't until I set the goal to read everyday, even just a verse, and looked back over months of time that I realized that the difference it makes is huge! And to this day, I can't go to bed without reading from the Book of Mormon. That habit as been such a blessing in my life! Transfers are this week and some big changes are coming! Rumor is that our ward is getting two more elders and the other two wards in our district that have elders are each getting a new set of sisters! This work is truly filling the whole world and it is so cool to be a part of! I'm kinda sad, because I'm pretty sure the Elders will get the area of our ward with basically all of our investigators and everyone we visit, but it will be cool to start fresh, but still be able to see our investigators at church and such. Every week, I think, there are SO many people who we need to visit, who want to be taught, we just don't have enough time! So it will be really nice to have some extra help in the ward. Our ward is great, our bishop is really involved as well as the ward missionaries with going with us to teach and it really makes a big difference. And it's getting better. 

Exciting event of this week, we went to visit a house and these two little girls were leading us and we had to jump across 3 stones in a river/ stream thing and hold onto a tree to avoid a huge pig then jump on two more stones. We asked them if there was another, easier way to get to their house but they said nope! And They have tiny children! And a baby! I have no idea how they get anywhere. It was pretty fun though. And today we at breakfast we heard the loudest squealing noise ever and I said, "What is that? A dying pig??" (as an expression) "Yep, they're tying him up and they are about to slit his throat" haha it was crazy. Seriously, it was so loud! I think that's about it! 

Sister Pike

Zone conference

The pig we had to avoid.. and the stream we had to jump across.

The little girls leading us to the house - note the gutter system. It can be pretty smelly. 

A family in the ward

Shout out to my Texans!! Elder Coontz gave this to me cause there is was a Texan previously in their apartment who left it behind. Texas pride never dies.

My Philippines flag badge that some elders made for our district in the MTC. I don't wear it but Sister Somera thought it was awesome and wanted a picture.

Sister Somera's fancy meal. She seriously spoils me so much!

Zone conference

Shania and Sister Weng, She is less active and we have been working very close to help her get married. She is so great!

Me with Shania! She is so cute!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Week 11 - 4/14/2013

Hello Everybody! Wow, what a week. Pretty darn awesome, I must say and very adventurous. First, We didn't have water from Monday to Friday. I remember when we were living at the Riviera and they shut the water off for like 3 hours and it was horrible! Or it reminded where Mark almost had to shower in the backyard for prom hahaha... any way, we had to go next door and literally pump the water we used for showers, quite and interesting experience. And we couldn't wash our clothes until Friday, we were getting so nervous that we would run out! Needless to say when the water turned back on in, I have never been so excited to see water coming out of a faucet in my entire life. But luckily we have filtered water delivered to our house for drinking so we didn't need to worry about that. Another adventure, I ate an egg that was 100 days old, it's called a century egg. Absolutely black with a gray yolk and it smelled not to great, but actually didn't taste to bad! We watched general conference this weekend at the stake center which is our building so we got to see all the elders in our zone and that's when we ate them. 

And my companion also taught me how to gut the fish and cook it then you cut off the heads, put it in a soup and then suck the eyes and brains out of the skull. True story. I feel pretty legit Filipino right now haha We also had the opportunity to participate in a mini MTC for all the perspective missionaries in the stake which was pretty great. It was 2 nights and a morning testimony meeting. They fed us so it was really great cause we couldn't cook at home because lack of water. I played the piano, as missionaries we sung to musical numbers and I gave a talk. They sure like our participation! But the talk was in English because the MTC in the Philippines is all English so it was really good. I talked about how much good they could do in their wards right now just by talking to any of the investigators the missionaries bring or even just paying attention to those who aren't coming to church and reach out in friendship and love. Because if their is one lesson I will take home with me is HOW MUCH MEMBERS ARE NEEDED IN MISSIONARY WORK!!! Seriously, more and more everyday I realize this. Not even just for referrals, but just to help the people the missionaries are teaching feel welcome. And missionaries get transferred every few months but the members will be there forever!-ish. When the members are involved, they are also able to experience the joy the missionaries do when they get baptized and they are 100x more likely to stay active and it's more likely that the people will be converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not just the missionaries. There are literally like 10 people this sister missionary was working with a few transfers ago that got baptized or were progressing and literally stopped everything the second she got transferred. So sad!!! I don't care how many people I baptize as long as make sure they are truly CONVERTED to the church. It's seriously been a big problem of recent converts becoming inactive within a few months and it is so much harder to help  them. It was really cool going to conference with questions not about me, but how I can help our investigators individually. We have an investigator named MJ who is gay and he really wants to get baptized. They taught him the Law of Chastity and everything and he is willing to follow it but, the sisters before kept putting it off cause he wouldn't cut his hair. We really didn't know what do because there is no specific scripture saying cut your hair or you can't be baptized. So we were really at a loss of how to help him. When conference was finished, there wasn't any specific talk that addressed his situation, but I realized if the only thing keeping him from getting baptized is his hair, then he isn't truly converted and shouldn't be baptized anyway. I realized that the investigators that are the hardest to teach and with the most obstacles are actually the ones I am most grateful because as we help them forsake the things of their past life and watch them truly change, we will know that they are truly ready to be baptized. Right now we are teaching a 14 year old named Criselda and she is great cause her best friend is a member so she's been to church like 5 times and really wants to baptized but because these things are easy for her, it's hard to tell if she's really converted and if she really has a testimony. When we first started teaching her, we thought great!  She'll go to church 4 weeks and teach her then she'll be baptized, this will be a breeze. But We are realizing it is actually going to take a very long time for her and it will be very difficult for us if she is fully converted to the gospel willing to endure to the end. General Conference is awesome and it's amazing how we can receive the questions we need even if the speakers don't specifically mention it. One of the other things I have loved is when people don't come to church and we ask why, they say no money. Then my first thought is just walk! Well, the church probably 3-4 miles away. I think, would I be willing to walk that far week after week to go to church? Ask yourself these questions. I've decided I would because church is that important. If I expect these people to do it, I need to expect the same from me. 

I love it here, I'm working hard, we're teaching a lot but we have a long way to go before our investigators are truly converted! But that's okay cause true conversion takes time, but is long lasting. And in order to stay converted, we need to do the basic things everyday. It's a requirement to even be counted as committed to date of baptism that they read the Book of Mormon every single day, are we? I know that even though it seems small and insignificant that if we read the Book of Mormon (even just a verse) every single day, we will be happier and live a more joyful life. I know this because I have done it for the past 2 years and the difference it has made is incredible. By small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. As we create these habits in our lives, they will be the anchor we need through our trials. 

Gugma, Sister Pike

Happy Birthday Sister Somera! With Sister Nelson and Sister Karagdag

District Lunch

Cutest thing ever. This is a typical street we walk past and there were two little boys riding the pedicab and one hopped off to help push it up the hill.

This is their idea of drinks to go because they are usually in glass bottles but they reuse them over and over so they put it in a bag to go. One time I tried to take a glass bottle and my companion looked at me like I was crazy and said, They aren't free! haha 

The 100 day old egg we ate. I didn't think it was that bad at all! But Elder Baker ate one the next day and he looked like he was about to vomit every time he took a bite haha I just thought it was freaking awesome I ate an egg that was black! and not colored.  Who else can say that??

Oh, no big deal, I guy just rode by on a caribou (water buffalo) with a bucket of fish to sell. My companion actually tried to get him to stop so I could ride hahaha she's hilarious. This is not typical. Most of the time we are in the city. 

So pretty! and green!

Our fish head soup. Marasa siya

And the fish we cooked with just onions, ginger, garlic and this mix stuff? I love it!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Week 10 - 4/8/2013

AHHHH!! Chicago??? (Our brother Mark got his mission call to Chicago - Julie) That is SO exciting! And insane. Like mother like daughter, like father like son, that never happens! Different languages and areas too, but crazy nonetheless! Markie! I am super excited for you! This week has been pretty excellent though I don't really know why. I've been trying to pay attention to all the little details that you might enjoy. Funniest thing ever, we were riding by on a pedicab and this little girl and boy (12 ish maybe) saw me as we were passing and she said, "Ah, mahusay!" (beautiful) so she asked my name, but we were riding by so I didn't really have time to respond so I just didn't say anything, but then I hear running behind me and a turn and they are chasing us down, literally!! When they caught up to us and were running next to us, they asked again and when I told them and they confirmed it, they stopped running and she screamed "AH!" As in "I'm so excited!" It was hilarious!!! And every time we pass they yell my name with excitement and chase us down and shake my hand through the opening while we are still riding! hahaha I have a legit fan club! And I took some pictures with random girls yesterday. And every time I speak Waray-waray, people are just astounded. It's basically the best. And when members find out this is only my first area, they are really impressed. Then I asked my companion and she said when she left her first area, the members rated her a 1 and she rated me an 8... after 3 weeks. Crazy! I love it though. I'm feeling so much more confident in my speaking skills and teaching skills, the other day I taught like half the lesson! I felt so great! Sundays after church are probably the worst because you realize that almost none of the investigators or people you have been working with showed up to church and you realize that you have a LOT of work to do. But that lasted for like a second and I just felt grateful to be teaching so many investigators! We have like 10? and many inactive that we visit on a regular basis. We teach 12 full lessons in a really bad week haha We really are blessed. I told my companion that Dad only taught 2 lessons his entire mission and zero baptisms and she was just shocked. She didn't believe me! haha I really feel grateful that I even have 11 people people to disappoint me for not coming to church haha. Perspective. On Friday, we had Zone interviews so we had training with President Andaya and we got snickers!! Which is basically the highlight, Sister Somera has literally been talking about it for weeks. We didn't get to watch general Conference this weekend, but we will next weekend. But I don't think we get to watch the Saturday sessions but I'm so excited! General Conference has always been my favorite. Today, we had a zone activity of Basketball, volleyball and frisbee and it was so fun! Every chapel I've seen is super nice, gated, bars on the windows, all tile floor inside with full court basketball where the parking lot should be. But there are no parking lots! Most people have motorcycles, get rides (sakay) or walk. Since is was all outside, I got sunburned so bad! But I was in heaven. I love sports!! 

Some cultural things I noticed, when you don't hear what someone says and you want them to repeat it, you open your mouth really wide. This was confusing to me at first because it makes it look like what you said was really shocking haha but I'm so good at it now. Ano pa... Tons of little kids are always playing in the streets and one game that I see most often is they put their flip flops in the middle and through other flip flops at them trying to hit it. I'm not really sure... We always take our shoes off when we enter a house and we sit on the floor about 25% of the time. When we meet someone really old, we touch their hand to our head to show respect and we always call them Nanay or Tatay. That's been hard to get used to. This past week we went to a restraunt that had American food and I ordered waffles. They gave me a fork and a knife and literally didn't know what to do with myself... haha seriously! They always use a spoon in the right hand and a fork in the left and you only used the fork to shovel the food onto the spoon then you use the spoon also as a knife. It is SO much more efficient. If I was that clueless after only 3 weeks, just imagine after 16 more months... haha it's going to be hilarious. I really hated trying to eat with a fork and knife. Without it realizing it, I tried to pile the food on my knife to eat it...didn't work out so well. Filipinos are super blunt. They don't ever call me big or anything, but another member did tell another Sister she was fat... haha At first when people would compliment me about being really beautiful or really smart for picking up the language so fast, I just thought oh they're being nice. But this week I learned that they are so honest and only say what they really mean. Something else cultural I've noticed that they are really committed in relationships. Even though marriage is not super common, when they live together or she gets pregnant, they are family and it means the same thing. In fact, they call them the same thing as husband or wife and it makes it way easier for those we are teaching because they basically are married and just as committed, they just need the legal document. And so far I haven't heard of any divorces.   

The other day, we visited a house that was crazy to get to! I really want to take a picture when we go back! He was our pedicab driver and we talked to him and he was interested in learning more. He told us the general area where he lived and we asked around and usually that's pretty typical except no one knew who he was! Finally like the 10th person knew (that's another thing is they are SUPER nice about giving directions and they will go out of their way to help you) so we followed her. We weaved between houses (huts really) in the mud, then we walked along these planks over mud and sewage, then we walked along like a 2 in. wide concrete wall and on one side was swamp and the other, a foot of sewage, for a while and then through mud and then we had to jump over two stream things, it was a pretty hard jump. I loved it, Sister Somera barely made it haha it was crazy! No wonder no one knew him! I was just laughing the whole time thinking, I can't wait till the others hear about this! It was great. And then he was busy so we had to go all the way back but it was a pretty legit little adventure.

Oh and Sister Somera's Birthday was on Saturday so we celebrated! The other sisters got a barbie cake for her but it was SUPER dense and so moist, it was crazy! It literally looked like it was just slabs of chocolate but still marasa (delicious) nonetheless. I feel like my emails are so random! haha One all the gospel, the next culture, you never know what you are going to get! I love it here. I hope you all can enjoy my adventures too! It has been pretty darn hot lately. Always humid but I never realize how humid it is until we meet in the bishop's office on Sunday which is aircon then walk out and the humidity hits you like a brick wall. Oh and I tell people I'm pretty used to the hot and humid because I'm from Texas and they are just shocked. "I thought it was only cold in America!" haha, that's funny. Until next week! 

Sister Pike

Monday, April 1, 2013

Week 9 - 4/1/2013

Kumusta akon Pamilya! 

Wow, what a week! It has been really great though. First I want to share an experience I had on Friday that was so great! So it was Good Friday and we weren't allowed to do any work (because it was dangerous? I don't really know. People always said tons about how crazy holy week, but I didn't even notice a difference at all!) so we stayed inside and studied all day. If you know me, you know I love curling up with a good book and reading for hours on end so that is exactly what I did, I read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John! All in one day, can you believe it? I kinda felt like I was reading Harry Potter haha but when I finished, I thought I just read all about Christ's earthly ministry among the Jews, I can't think of a better way to spend Good Friday! At the end of my reading, all I could think was I am SO grateful for the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! How can reading the Bible all day long increase my testimony about the Book of Mormon?? Good question! The Book of Mormon beautifully expounds upon the nature of Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice. I read about his many miracles, his teachings, the intercessory prayer, him tarrying in the garden while his apostles waited, his unjust trial, his crucifixion and resurrection 3 days later. But it is in Alma and 2 Nephi that we learn we cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven save it were for this great, last, infinite, and eternal sacrifice. He shall atone for the sins of the world, go forth suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind and take upon him the pains of sicknesses of his people.(Alma 34:8-10 and Alma 7:6-8). Not only does the atonement allow us to return, but it allowed him to be "filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know how to succor his people according to their infirmities."(Alma 7:11-13). Wow! What a knowledge we have! Than add the revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith, "For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit-and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink." (D&C 19:16-18) Wow. Would anyone want to suffer like that if they had the choice? Then add the Modern Revelation we have received and continue to receive by listening to General Conference! How blessed are we?? In Preach my Gospel, it says, "As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trails, sicknesses and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Christ." The Atonement is the single most important doctrine we need to be happy in this life as well as the life to come. This is why I'm here! I get to share this message everyday and it is awesome.

So, it's ironic that I had this experience on Friday that made me thankful for all the knowledge that we have readily available to us as members of the church and then on Easter Sunday I had some experiences that made me even more grateful! I want all of you to hug your quadruple combination of the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price because we need all of them to fully understand the gospel, but many, many members here don't have access to them! We can only teach from the Book of Mormon the lessons because that is the only book we have in Tagalog for them to read. Which is a pretty hard thing to do even if it is the keystone of our religion! And then, even after they are baptized, many members in our ward have access to them in English and they know english quite well because of their work, but some do not. They need to rely on the members during church to read the scriptures in english during the lesson and explain in Waray-waray. Same with General Conference! We will watch it a week later in english and many will not be able to fully understand, but will have to wait until these lessons are taught in church. We taught a couple that have been inactive for 8 years and when we visited them Saturday, they expressed a desire to get married and return to full activity so they could receive the blessing of the temple and we hope to witness their marriage soon. While we were teaching them on Sunday, Sister Weng had a question about Pontias Pilate and how the Jews wanted to Crucify Jesus, as told in Mark. All they had was an English bible, so we read with them, verse by verse what it meant. Now this wasn't even particularly deep doctrine, but they needed our help in understanding. And then later we taught the Ordonez Family (who just got baptized) and they asked about the Doctrine and Covenants and how they could read it. They have a desire, but even if we can get one for them, it will be in english and very difficult for them to understand. How blessed we are! Not just temporally, but spiritually as well! Even though many people around the world have been blessed to have scriptures translated into their own tongue, these people have not. Although it is so wonderful that they have the capacity to learn through going to church, they cannot read on their own and know for themselves which is something I will never again take for granted. 

Wow, that was long! But I really can't imagine a better way of spending Easter weekend. And now on a lighter note, yesterday I helped Nanay Ordonez wash her car (pictures soon to follow) and we had to pump our own water across the street and then when I was helping, there was literally a crowd of like 10 kids crowded around watching me help haha it was so funny! And everytime someone passed (which is often, the streets are very busy) they would do a double take and just smile. Also good things about Good Friday is Sister Karagdag (who lives with us) made us very delicious mango smoothies than a delicious grahamcracker-mango-ice cream cake! They (filipinos) definitely have a sweet tooth and it is perfect for me! I even tried some homemade peanut butter and it is so sweet! There is no way you need honey or jam! And the bread, spaghetti, even the pizza is made sweeter. At first, I didn't like the peanut butter that much and I preferred American, but it grew on me fast. Maybe I'll return home and add sugar to all my peanut butter or something haha The work has been progressing well. Lots of teaching to investigators and Less actives (almost more to less actives) but getting them to come to church is pretty hard, but we won't give up! A couple that promised adamantly Saturday that they would be there did not come, why? It was rainy. It's the Philippines! It's rains every other day, at least. haha I'm patient though and think, next week! 

I hope through my experiences you are able to feel so blessed, because you are!!! You have a loving Heavenly Father and he has given you all so much. Never forget to thank him, for even the things that might seem small like scriptures in your own language. And most importantly, use that gift! That is the best way to show appreciation. Until next week! 


Sister Pike

Me and Sister Somera with a Sting ray at a local fish stand. 

Washing Nanay Ordonez's car. They fit a family of 10 in here! What?? And it wasn't actually that dark, I think the flash made it look darker.