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...