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 (http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/05/travel/how-to-eat-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

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