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!
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Sister Clarin hiding from the sun haha|
|San Juanico bridge for the last time - famous in the Philippines as the longest bridge!|