Monday, April 28, 2014

"Fingertoes" and Brown Outs

This week was a pretty good week, but exhausting. We hit our goal of teaching 25 different lessons this week, so that was really good. The week has been really busy and I haven't gotten much sleep. So when the power goes out here, it is called a brown out.We have had brown outs two nights in a row. I went to bed with my fan blowing and woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat because no electricity means no electric fans. You should know it's 8am as I write this and its 92ºF but feels like 104º with humidity. I have to say it's pretty miserable, but luckily the brown outs don't last that long, maybe an hour or two. Ever since the two nights in a row, we have been praying for no more brown outs, at least during the night. Our prayers have definitely been answered! THE CHURCH IS TRUE! haha....but, Seriously it is!!

Despite the heat and the brown outs and the bugs, I have really loved being here. The kids here are my favorite. They are so funny and so helpful. The other day we went to teach out in this area called Guribang. One of my favorite families lives there and so I love this part of our area. After we teach with that family, the kids like to follow us and introduce us to their friends. Little missionaries in training. Gotta love the help. In school they are learning English, so sometimes they try to practice on me, and they help me with my Tagalog and Illacano in return. One 11 year old girl asked me what the words are for fingers and toes. In Tagalog, the word for finger is the same for toes. I explained that fingers are on your hands, and toes are on your feet. Later she asked me, "Sister Koncurat, why do you only have four fingertoes?" haha. Sister Lamac and I laughed at that one. 

Anyway, the work is hard, but so worth it. Although that language is hard for me to speak, I am understanding a lot better than before though. The spirit has been so strong in our lessons and that is so great to feel. The people are just too nice to say no to us when we ask if we can teach them, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good that we can get in, but bad because they tend to get our hopes up and they don't really mean it.  So far we have no progressing investigators, but we have a couple of strong potentials. We taught three different lessons this week that just made me so happy. As we were teaching, one of the investigators said that she has felt goosebumps every time that we come see her and she feels that happiness that we explained was the spirit. By the end she said that she wanted to come to church with us. It was so exciting! Sadly we stopped by her house on Saturday and no one was home. Her neighbor said she went out of town with her husband. It was a little disappointing, but there is still hope! Another time we were teaching another investigator, and she said the same thing about the goosebumps. So cool! And the third one, I was thinking that we should stop teaching this one family. They haven't really seemed interested in the previous lessons, but we thought we would visit them at least one more time. This time they were a lot more active in the lesson, asking questions that totally lead into the next part of the lesson. It was great, and afterwards they started saying that they were more interested. Sometimes it is hard to know the intentions of people, but overtime, it may just lead to something. Patience is key, right?

So...all is well here in the pines...I am running low on my Benedryl stick already, what can I say...mosquitos love me! 

Have a most awesome week everyone!
Sister Koncurat 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Life in Cauayan

Easter sunset in Diffun

23¢ or 10 pesos and I can get almost anywhere on on a tricie

things that make me laugh--the bottom sign, posted on a bus, says that body odor is not allowed...I agree : )

alrighty then...

the newest missionaries in Cauayan

getting used to pruny fingers from doing laundry in a bucket

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!

This week started off with zone conference, and it was super good. We talked all about how to better use the Book of Mormon in all of our lessons.I already had a testimony of the Book of Mormon, especially because I've been reading it a lot lately. My goal in the MTC was to finish it before getting to the field. I wasn't able to complete that goal, but I'm working on it. The important thing is though, the more I read it, the stronger my testimony is. I look forward to my personal study time each day when I can read more.The mission has a challenge right now to read it in 60 days and while doing that, focus on Christ. Circle all the references to Him and highlight His teachings. The Book of Mormon is truly another testament of Jesus Christ. It isn't just about people moving from Jerusalem to the Ancient Americas and all the wars and contention they had. Christ is mentioned so many times and it is just proof that He is the Christ. If you look deeper into the book, not just skim, you will find how much you can relate and how much it can help you in your own life. So, I invite you all to join me int his challenge as well.

We also talked about Easter at zone conference and President Rahlf challenged everyone to come up with an Easter message to share with everyone this week. People celebrate Easter all around the world, and what most religions focus on, is the death of the Savior. Although that is a huge part of it, I think the most important thing to remember is the Garden of Gethsemane and the Resurrection. Christ gave us a way that we can be cleansed of all of our sins, he suffered for us, and he is the only one who can truly empathize with everyone, but He also showed us that we can live with Him again. That gift of eternal life is the greatest gifts that He could give us. A life in which we can have everlasting peace and joy. What a great thing to celebrate! It is something that we should celebrate everyday of our lives.

In honor of Easter this week, Sister Lamac and I decided to have our own version of an Easter egg hunt--missionary style :). Addresses here are so different. No one has a house number. It is all down to the town and zone-from there it is just asking somebody if they know where a specific person lives (great way to talk to new people!). So for our hunt, we went looking for some of the less actives in our ward that we have not yet met. We have a huge ward of about 700 people, but only about 150 people show up to church on a constant basis. So we have a big job on our hands. We picked a small part of our area, and went out on our journey. It was probably one of the hottest days here that I have felt, and it was so hard to find anyone! But we kept our spirits up and made it fun. We could have easily been miserable and it could have been a terrible day, but as we kept up our positive attitudes, we found success. It reminded me of Alma 26:27 "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, and bear with patience thine afflictions and I will give unto you success." We were able to teach 7 lessons and found 12 new potential investigators. Sister Lamac even said that was the most lessons she has ever taught since she has been in the field. Missionary work is definitely not easy, but it is so rewarding. 

Keep your head up in all that you do. When things get hard, just rely on the Savior, and things will work out! 
Hope you all have a great week! 
Love Sister Erin Koncurat 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stuck in the Mud?

I'M HERE!  The journey was SO LONG! But 26 hours and very swollen feet...I made it! By the end, all I wanted to do is take a shower and pass out, but of course, that didn't happen right away.

yikes! after almost a week the swelling is mostly gone.

Everyone that was flying from the MTC to the Philippines all met with my group in Tokyo to fly to Manila together. Thirteen elders, a senior couple, and me. We actually went to a hotel pretty close to the airport to rest for the night. It was really cool, we each stayed in these hut-like houses for the night. The hotel provided us with KFC before heading to bed too.Yes, it is the same here as it is in the states, except it comes with rice instead of mashed potatoes. I thought that was pretty funny. Some of the elders tried to feed the monkey that lives at the hotel some of the rice. 

That night I only got an hour and a half of sleep before having to get up again to start the next day of traveling. At least this next flight was only an hour long! Elder Lee and I were the only missionaries from the Provo MTC heading out to Cauayan, but when we got to the airport, we met five others that were from the Manila MTC. As soon as we got there, they were encouraging us to OYM (open your mouth) and talk to the people around. After having no luck in the previous airports, I was feeling a little discouraged, but I did it anyway. After all, rejection is all
part of missionary life. I went up to talk to someone, and she totally ignored me. She completely turned her body and got out a book to read! Then we were called for boarding, so I just forgot about it. We got on the plane and as people were boarding, I tried to talk to the guy next to me, he ignored me too! Man this missionary stuff in the real world is a lot harder! So, I said a little prayer in my head and this other man sat next to me. We ended up talking the entire way about the gospel and he accepted a pass-along card! I was so happy!! We landed and went out separate ways, and the rest of us missionaries were picked up by the AP's and Mission President and taken straight to the mission home. The elders driving us joked around that they were going to feed us balut ( and dog for lunch, but they were totally kidding...right? 

I met my companion, Sister Lamac. She is from San Pablo, Philippines, but she speaks English really well. She is super nice and is helping me a lot with my Tagalog. 

In the MTC I started to get real comfortable with my Tagalog and then I got here! Nope...I don't have it down at all!  Everyone speaks Tagalog really really fast or they are speaking in Ilokano and so I really have no idea what anyone is saying. I can pick up on a few words here and there, but for the most part, Sister Lamac translates everything for me. We were sent to this area called Diffun (sounds like D-foon) just south of Santiago City. It is a small country town near the mountains and surrounded by rice fields. It is so pretty!

but when it rains it pours...literally!
I was pleasantly surprised by our apartment. It really isn't all that great, but compared to the living conditions of the people we visit, we are pretty lucky. We have a microwave, a
toaster-oven, and of course a rice cooker. And the biggest surprise was the shower. I HAVE ONE! It is a cold shower every morning, but at least it is a working shower---not just a bucket. And I really wouldn't want a hot shower anyway. It is summer time here, so yeah, it is really hot and really humid, but not as bad as I thought. It feels just like a Maryland summer. The only difference is that we don't have air conditioning. I do have a fan, so that is nice, but I still wake up super sweaty every morning. Well, I always feel sweaty, but I'm adjusting to it.

On my first day, we dropped off my luggage at the apartment, and then it was straight out to the field with Sister Lamac. We visited two of the member's homes. They were all amazed at how white I am and they would just stare at me. They all renamed me "Snow White." One sister even commented on how "tall" my nose is. Apparently, the taller your nose, the lighter your eyes, and the whiter your skin, the more beautiful you are. Everyone here really treats me like I am a celebrity. People honk and wave and mostly stare as I pass by, it's very funny. Anyway, the second home we visited made dinner for us. It was rice and some kind of hot dog type thing. I really didn't want to know what kind of meat I was eating, so I didn't ask. Tatay (means Father) went and got 2 eggs and set them in front of me. Yep, the Elders were right about one thing. That day, I ate balut. Sister Lamac was nice and took the bigger egg, and showed me how to eat it. The two daughters laughed and took pictures, as I tried to quickly eat it...I may have gagged a couple times, but it did it! They all commended me on how brave I was on my first day. It really wasn't that bad, just a little chewy.

I really do love it here. It really is a different place. The mountains are so green and beautiful, I pass by beautiful rice fields everyday. The homes are tiny, and the people really don't have much, but they are so nice and so humble. They other day, as Sister Lamac and I were teaching, we sat on their nice plastic lawn chairs, as the other women sat on the metal frame of a chair with a plank of wood as the cushion. But, I just have to say the dogs all racist! Strays roam around everywhere. They are nice to the Filipinos but they just growl at me, what's that about??  I love dogs!

I wake up to the sound of roosters every morning. And when we are not walking, we ride in funny busses called Jeepnies and sometimes vans that they pack full of people. We pretty much have to sit on top of one another. Or there are tricies that are just motorcycles with a side-car.

But, I can't say it enough the people are so nice. The other day, we went to teach a less active family. As we were walking over there, we ran into a patch of soft mud. The mud tried to steal my shoes. As I tried to get out, I just kept sinking deeper and deeper in the mud. The Nanay (means Mother) that was with us helped me out. She retrieved both my shoes and walked over to the stream near by to wash off. After I was clean, Nanay gave me her flip-flops to wear while my shoes dried.

Sometimes, we may find ourselves stuck in the mud. It is hard to get out on our own. In fact, it is impossible to get out on our own. Each time you try, you just sink more into it. But as we rely on our Savior, he will be there to help us out and become clean again. I know through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, he takes upon himself our burdens and he heals us of all things. I love this gospel and I know it is true!

Love you all!!
Sister Koncurat

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

There she goes!

And she's off to the island country of the Philippines!!  She had a surprise greeter at the airport in LA first though...her Dad just happened to be returning home from a cycling event over the weekend and was able to track her down with a little bit of sleuthing and a very kind gate agent that offered him a gate pass to go get one last hug in.  Good Luck Sister Koncurat!  We will miss you!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sa pamamagitan ng Espiritu Santo, magigin malakas po natin!

Ridin' solo 

Well first of all, I have to tell you that I met my husband!!!! 

Well...ok, so, I saw him from afar ; )  Guess who came to the MTC to sing for ME??? ...fine he came for all the missionaries...   DAVID ARCHULETA!!   Sooooo AWESOMEl!   Every Sunday and Tuesday we have a fireside/devotional and this last one was different than all the rest. Brother Richard Elliot-the organist for the Mormon Tabernacle choir came to speak, but instead of speaking, he mostly just played for us. He is super talented! He played as David sang 3 songs.  The first one, my very favorite hymn, Be Still My Soul, and then he sang one of my other favorites, Come, Come Ye Saints. The last one he sang the first two verses of Hark all Ye Nations and then we joined him on the last two verses. BEST FIRESIDE EVER! Hahahah Sister Faasavalu (one of the sisters in my Zone-pictured below) and I were absolutely giddy when we saw him walking in.   I know, It was so silly, but totally made my week!!!! 

Oh other exciting news--I got my flight plans!   I fly out Monday, April 7th in the morning from SLC to LA to Tokyo arriving the the next night. Then I fly from Tokyo to Manila and should arrive there, hopefully around midnight Tuesday. Also they told us that we can call home at each airport. YAY!!  I don't know the time differences, but I guess you can figure that out...and will it matter anyway??   I'm so excited to talk to you!  One hour email is just not enough time!! But, I understand that I need to be focused on the work. 

This week really hasn't been any different then the past couple weeks, so not much else to report on. I am just so excited to get out and really start working. I have loved my time here at the MTC and have definitely made really good friends, but I AM READY!  Although my Tagalog isn't perfect and the Philippines is going to be so different than what I am used to, I know that I'll be taken care of and there are people there waiting to hear what I have to say on behalf of our Heavenly Father. My mom uses this quote from Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh  "Always remember you are BRAVER than you believe, STRONGER than you seem, and SMARTER than you think''.  I am certainly finding out I am stronger than I seem!  I was in a lesson this week and I barely had time to prepare. I felt as if I would go in there and forget everything, but with the Lords help, I was able to say exactly what was needed to be said. It was probably my best lesson yet! As I have said before, the spirit is so strong here, and with that power, I am made stronger.  We all have that help in our lives, if we just ask for it!

Sa pamamagitan ng Espiritu Santo, magigin malakas po natin! (Through the Holy Ghost, we all will become strong!) 

Love you all!! 
Have a good week!!

Sister Koncurat

my very awkward but lovable district brothers plus my companion of the day, Sister W.