Sunday, May 25, 2014

Week 70 - 5/25/2014

This week was WONDERFUL!!! Are you ready to hear about a miracle? I got to work the whole week! So last week I was out the whole week and it was really hard! I had received a blessing about a month ago which said just listen to the spirit in what you need to do and have the faith to be healed. So I've been setting new goals trying to reach new levels of diligence and obedience to show my faith and have the ability to be healed. Going out to work only to just return a few hours later not even being able to sit and teach in lessons. I studied a ton of on faith and of course we need to be patient with his timing, but come Sunday, I just felt kind of stuck. Running out of ideas of what to do to improve and show my faith so I was really thinking about asking for another blessing and then that night, my companion (without me even talking to her about it) said she was going to text our district leader for a blessing so I thought that was PERFECT timing so I asked for one too. And it was just the best blessing ever! It said, "Increase your spiritual strength and you will receive strength in all areas of your life." and I thought, YES! I can get better!  And then he continued, “as you show your faith, your physical strength will be renewed and you will be able to share the blessing you have received with the people here." And that was like the green light I needed to go, push myself without reservation, without fear that it will get worse and knock me out forever. I was so happy! And then came Tuesday, the true test... I was sooo tired! It was one of those mornings I just felt so draggy and wanted to sleep all day long. We went to district meeting and lunch and came back to do language study and Sister Brown had basically just given up on me. I was gonna fall asleep any second and be out for the day. She started language study in our room and I just went downstairs and prayed and prayed that I would have the spiritual strength to keep going even though my body was just giving up on me. I would read my waray-waray Book of Mormon until I was about to break, then pray some more. It was SO HARD! I knew that I could lay down and fall asleep instantly for like 5 hours and no one would think anything of it. But I also knew that I had specifically asked for a way to show my faith to healed it had been given along with the promised blessing that I could do it! That I could push myself beyond anything that I could do and receive the strength I needed. I struggled for the entire hour of language study until I resolved to go outside and work NO MATTER WHAT! And as I resolutely walked up those stairs to tell my companion that I'm ready to go, a miracle happened. The strength came! I laughed at the look of surprise on her face when I told her I was ready to go work and also as she looked for signs that I was going to fall over at any second and she saw none because it wasn't there. I can't fool her, she knows better than anyone, but she believed me and we went out and worked the whole day and I wasn't even tired. Not even a little bit. Or the next day. Or the next. We did a service project, we continued. It was such a relief that I didn't have to worry about anything but working my hardest! It was the best! I worked for a whole week! If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is so real and powerful and can help us do things that we cannot do on our own whether  it be receiving physical strength or even spiritual strength to overcome temptation and put off the natural man. Lots more has happened but nothing really compares to this. Enjoy your week and look for all the miracles all around, large and small! I love you!

Love, Sister Pike

We drove all the way to Paranas (45 min) on a jeepney, got punted and drove all the way back. But we got sparkle (a soda) and peanuts so it was all worth it.  haha I joked, "We just went on a field trip to get sparkle and peanuts!"

The houses I was talking about. Winding cement paths with basically a swamp underneath where they throw all their trash and is really smelly.

Our service project, we used sundangs (machetes) to losen dirt to take out all the rocks so a family can build a garden!  Service projects are usually really hard to come by here but it was so great cause we were all (6 of us) able to work the whole time and know exactly what was expected of us.

Our awesome nanay dresses - also called dusters.

Last Monday we went to a debut-18th birthday of a girl in our ward and it was so fancy! They did it in the chapel and it's a huge deal!  Super delicious food. It was p-day so we went a little bit before we went to work.

They were enrolling in school at the church so there were a ton of kids playing in a pedicab in teh church parking lot/basketball court.

Super pretty sunset

Sister Brown talking to Simon, a son of member. Mostly took it to show what their house was like, they have a little room then a ladder with like 5 steps then it's their living room.

Inside of a jeepney on our 45 min. ride- "there's always room for one more"

Our adventures walking to a less active's house on tiny little boards!  Then we get there and it's flooded (the path to her house) so we can't go.

Our service project!

Our dresser was falling over so I had to get creative with my lavalavas and pillar in our room!

Ube soft serve ice cream! great way to end the day. 

The new Liahona (for us) basically like Christmas! We can't read it fast enough. Don't take it for granted there!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 69 - 5/19/2014

Hello family! Not super eventful week, the CRAZY heat pretty much knocked me out for the week (as in a slept everyday) but no worries, it was still fun! And I'm always shocked at how much I learn and how much happens despite being sick. 

Gave a talk in sacrament meeting. Remember how my first area I gave like 500 talks? Turns out that isn't normal at all and I haven't given one in any of my other areas (except the typical "I'm new to your branch" testimony) So that was fun. Everyone was AMAZED at my waray-waray... which still confuses me cause I only have 2 months left! and I talk to them all the time... but then I realized the biggest thing they were amazed at was it was waray-waray and not Tagalog. Of course you think, duh! You have never spoken straight up Tagalog so it would never actually slip into your vocabulary. But then I remember how many Filipinos have served here and there are even a lot of Americans who were assigned in other Tagalog missions and came back speaking Tagalog. And sometimes they don't even do it on purpose because they don't quite realize it's not waray-waray because no one reacts because everyone can all understand Tagalog anyway. But for Cebuano, you say a word and you can tell by the look of your face they have no idea what you just said so you ask the waray word, and change because you need to. This just gave me a testimony of why they want us to really study each and every local dialect even though you could really teach the Philippines the gospel all in Tagalog (with VERY few exceptions) but it really reaches their hearts when you go out of your way to learn that dialect of that city even though it will be of no personal value to you ever again. They were seriously SO happy. 

Also, yesterday after church, we were waiting for the elders to come to start missionary coordination meeting and they were talking forever and there were a billion little kids running around in the chapel so we decided to play the piano to quiet them down and get them more reverent! It worked- the power or music and we ended up playing tons of hymns, me on the right hand, Sister Brown playing the left, me singing the soprano and her singing  the alto/tenor/bass (whichever one she felt in the mood for that verse) and it was so fun! It took some extreme companionship unity but the members heard us and were all gathered round loving it and were giving song requests. It was so great! I love being around people who love music and are WAY better at it than I am so we can have fun with it. I have been very blessed with that on my mission.

And that's about it... It's been so hot at night despite having 2 fans on us full blast, I woke up sweating the other day... disgusting. I've never been this hot my whole mission. But our room is like an oven so I'm looking forward to the end of summer (in a few weeks). If we didn't have fans, we would probably die. But that about covers it! I love you all! Thanks for your emails!

Sister Pike
District Lunch - inside joke..

Sister Brown checking out the window every five seconds to see if Sister Aban has put out her delicious treats yet (what I talked about in skype - the fried bananas and ice candy, she just has a little store connected to her house. VERY common here.)  It was hilarious.

One of the days I was sick, we were in our p-day clothes all day then we had to put a skirt for planning so we just threw it on top of our p-day clothes ha!

I decided to exercise with Sister Brown one night, instead of in the morning - so great kay so nice and cool and rainy and we're on our roof and we were helping each other pinoy squat. They can sit like that all the time! It's so hard but they were raised doing it. It's been my mission goal.

Decorations for our barangy's (like subdivision) fiesta - flags and little bags of colored water - super creative!

An example of the dirtiest city in the mission with open gutters. There have been a few missionaries that accidentally stepped into one and it's not pretty...

Basically explains our week.. haha I'm knocked out and Sister Brown is doing her thing :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Week 68 - 5/12/2014

Hello family! I just skyped (google chat to be politically correct) you! whoo! So fun. This week was a blast. Looking back, there was nothing in particular that was super great but I guess the most significant thing is that we made it great! So to start, last week after emailing, we had a zone activity at the beach! It was like the prettiest beach ever! If I ever come back ever again, that's where I'm headed. And we played volleyball, football, took jumping pictures, you know, the normal stuff. And that night we had an FHE (family home evening) at a member's house and the elders brought their investigators and we just had a blast. They get really into their FHE games... don't worry I'm writing them all done to play when we get home. My favorite thing about their games is the penalty if you lose, you have to do a talent! So Sister Brown and I got 3 strikes each so we did slide (the hand game that kids do) and they LOVED it! I've never thought to do that as a talent before, but it was perfect. We were told transfer announcements would be late this week but we were shocked when Sister Vea got the call Tuesday to transfer and train! It was pretty sad, especially at this point at my mission because I never know if I'll see these people ever again! And then we found out me and Sister Brown are staying!!! So fun. So before Sister Vea left, I got a recording of them singing some Tongan hymns, so beautiful! Basically my life goal to memorize those. Then we found out on Thursday Sister Pettijohn is new companions with Sister Clarin! (in our apartment) I lived with her in Balaquid! (my last area) So fun. 

And this will be a shock to all familiar to missionary work, probably the highlight of my week was weekly planning! We do it every week so it really shouldn't be too exciting but because Sister Brown and I stayed together, we sat down and made some pretty awesome transfer goals. Some fun, some necessary, it's been so great. 

1. Find a professional family that will be a blessing to our branch
2. Find a place to hard bind our PMG- it's basically a necessity as a missionary in the Philippines
3. English fast- that's right, she joined. I'm so excited! It's been going pretty well! Not quite 100% yet, but working on it
4. Exercise daily
5. Find more service opportunities
6. Read from PMG daily in comp. study- sometimes we run out of time...
7. Find best halo-halo in Catbalogan
8. Learn and cook more variety of meals- I want to be a master at pinoy food
9. Clean daily- that will be easier now that we have the rat problem fixed :)
10. This is my favorite and been the most fun thus far--> do something fun every day and take a picture. Basically it's our goal to remember to take pictures of the little fun things we do like spaghetti Sundays, dying in front of the fans for planning every night, splurging on Hershey’s candy bars to celebrate our 2nd transfer together-- that's right, they're expensive and fancy!, having the other sister's buy us Jollibee (the only fast food here) because we haven't gone outside all day cause I've been sick. So that explains those pictures this week...Take joy in the little things. So get ready for a more day-to-day look into the life of a bunch of goofy sister missionaries :)

Hope you all have a great week! I love you!

Sister Pike

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Week 67 - 5/4/2014

#1 I'm so glad you got the video!!! Isn't that the coolest? I kinda looked the grossest ever because we had just been riding on a bus for a few hours and I had a really terrible sick voice but that was such a cool experience that I am so thankful for! It's actually pretty crazy how it happened. Last Monday, we left at about one to head to Tacloban. Our zone leaders said to BE THERE at 4 so we thought it was a big deal, like the whole mission would already be there and we would have a meeting or something. So we show up at the church in Tacloban exactly on time and no one else is there! Just a bunch of members cleaning! So we think, are we at the wrong place? Are they all at the other chapel? So we're just standing around outside all lost and confused when a car drives up with two Americans! That is NOT normal. So they get out and talk to us, they're looking for President Andaya and the AP's and they soon find out that we know absolutely nothing. And then one says to the other, do you just want to interview them? And that piques our interest. Turns out one of them is David Perry who is a world renowned videographer who is here to catch some footage for a video about Tacloban to show to youth of the church and such. So we volunteer and they set up the camera and such. At first we thought they were going to do all 8 of us, just little short clips about our experiences and how much we grew. The others were pretty shy kay they're Filipino and shy about their English so we went first. They asked us to share our story and weren't really sure how long he wanted us to go so we just went and waited for him to tell us to stop but we went and went, wayy longer than we expected but it was a really cool experience. Especially since I'm COMPANIONS with someone who shared almost the exact same experience as me. What are the odds of that. When we finished, he loved it! And we said, we hope you can find something to use! And then he said, if nothing else, I'll send this to your family and it's a great thing to have on record to share with your friends, family and even future family! By the time we finished, the other half of the zone got there and he did a few short clips of what they learned and how they grew from that hard experience. So it turns out, we had absolutely no reason to be there at that time, no one else ever showed up. Are tender mercies real? Yes. I'm so grateful for that! 

(The video Mary is talking about was sent to our parents - it will be made into a documentary for viewing later)

#2 Mission Tour!!!! For the first time ever, Tacloban mission was gathered all together and it was just the best ever. 168 all together- 56 sisters, 112 elders. We were smaller than I'm used to but we still barely fit inside the chapel. President Nielson (area president of the Philippines) and his wife came and spoke to us and it was such a great experience. We had studied the talk "mountains to climb" in preparation and we talked about not only using typhoon Yolanda as a personal testimony builder, but putting it in a place where we can help others learn from it too. Also, they talked about how we can use this situation to help others who suffered recognize the miracles and use it to bring them closer to Christ. One thing that he said was many people said, "We need to repent. That happened because of wickedness." But he emphasized that these things happen, natural disasters, terrible situations, etc., not to call us to repentance but to show forth his power. And both Sister and President Nielson made it very clear that while everything was going down, especially the rescuing of missionaries, they knew they were witnessing nothing short a modern day miracle. It was really cool to hear their testimonies especially now that it's been 6 months, the work is continuing, Tacloban is very progressing and it's all looking up but just to be reminded of the miracles we've all seen.

#3 it's transfer week! So I probably will stay but it's exciting to see what happens for transfers. It is likely that Sister Brown and I will not stay together which is pretty sad; we’ve had the best time! I'm so grateful for her. My English fast is going good; I didn't expect how hard it would be! Especially when we meet with the zone, we all speak so much English... I definitely felt was it was like to be a Filipina- to know English but maybe not well enough to keep up with fast paced Americans. I've slipped a bit but I'm definitely getting better. Progress! And Skype- siyempre I will speak English haha! But as far as I know, there are no elections next week and I for sure can only do it on Monday. I will MAKE SURE to be online at 11am my time. Hopefully Mark can get on too! That was basically the saddest moment ever when I found out he got special permission, I thought there was no way! But now I know to be PROMPT and we will search for a good internet cafe with Skype this week (google chat). I love you all, thank you for your support! See you next week! The last time I will talk to you before I see you in person... weird. 

Love, Sister Pike