Thursday, February 20, 2014

Week 1 Sa Philipinas!

Magandang hapon mga kaibigan ako!
I have no idea where to even start. Sorry to those I told that Monday was P-day... someone misinformed me. It's actuallyFriday. Well I've officially been in the MTC one week and I feel like a completely different person! In the good way. :) My flight to California was nice and short, but then to Japan and Manila it was totally miserable because they took my carry on and checked it because it wouldn't fit under my seat so I literally only had my neck pillow and water bottle. Everyone around me was watching movies and it was so hard not to... so I just played Sudoku for 14 hours... Never again. I flew by myself the entire time so there weren't any missionaries to talk to, only Japanese people. I had to communicate with them via grunting, lol.
The Lord is definitely hastening his work - I was approached by at least 2 people in all three airports I went to. The first one was this karate instructor who asked why I was flying alone. I got to introduce myself and why I was going out and he was curious about the church. I actually got to give out my pass-along cards! Then in the Japan airport I was approached by a guy traveling to Manila who was going out for business. He said he was Catholic but he admired the young people of our church. At the Manila airport, there was a guy who was familiar with Mormons because of the Manila temple and MTC, but didn't know anything about the church. He was religious and was heavily involved in a humanitarian organization, so I gave him a pass along card too! I was so excited.
Dad, you were right. The driving here seriously is an artform. You feel like you're in a human version of Mariokart, literally. I was holding my breath the whole time. How does everyone live so long in this country when they drive like that?!
So I got to the MTC last Friday and they gave me my nametag, my schedule and some shots... (mom - they don't even have the vaccine for Japanese encephalitis because that disease isn't even here.)
I had a rough start because I got sick the second day here, and Sunday morning I was called out of the congregation to give a talk on the spot. It wasn't so bad but it wasn't fun with a really sore throat and fever. I got a blessing from the district leader though and was completely better the next day! It truly was miraculous. It's gotten much better though -- our district can now pray in Tagalog, bear our testimonies in Tagalog, and even have and understand conversations. It's really exciting! We have two of the best teachers in the MTC, says the senior batch. Although we're getting better, I still wanna kick the person who decided to try and build a tower to heaven.
But back to the first day. We had a devotional and were given our language materials. Brother Bigelow was right -- President and Sister Beck are the most amazing people in the world! I've decided they're going to be in the general presidency of something someday. :) I got to know them personally on the very first day because get this -- I'm the ONLY piano player in the whole MTC. (I'm also 1 out of 3 AMERICAN sisters in this MTC. Not sure why there are so many white elders and not sisters...) Granted, there are less than 100 missionaries here (We don't even fill up a chapel the size of our small church). This has worked to our benefit because EVERYONE is friends! We've all become so close!! In fact, some of the elders here go to BYU-Idaho and I've seen them around. :) Anyway, Sister Jackson, the music coordinator, said she had been praying for me the whole week because she desparately needed a pianist and that I was an answer to her prayer. Also on the first day they made me a Sister Training Leader so I work with the District Leaders and the MTC president in solving problems and taking care of the sisters. Haha I was given so much responsibility just on the first day that it was overwhelming. We also had to teach our first investigator, IN TAGALOG, on the second day. She spoke very few words in English so it was hard to communicate with her. My kasama and I felt like failures. So our next approach was to speak Taglish and focus more on the spirit and less on the language. That was a really good idea because the spirit was so strong and we began to feel love for an investigator that we knew was just acting. We finally got her to commit to baptism. Then last night she came into our classroom and introduced herself as our new teacher... Surprise! :P She spoke perfect English, but in my defense she was a fabulous actress.
It's really weird to have my "accent"  made fun of. You never really think about how your culture is weird to other people. My companion is Australian and I don't understand half of the terminology she uses. It's funny though how we're starting to use each others words and adopt the accent.
Today we got to go to the temple! It was wonderful! It was our first time out of the MTC among the Filipinos and they are seriously the nicest people. I've had several Filipino sisters and random people on the street come up to me and say, "Ohh sister, you are so beautiful!" I love how they can give compliments without feeling like it takes anything away from that. We need more of that in our culture! It's weird to have everyone on the streets say hi to you. I forget I'm wearing the missionary badge so when they say hi, I feel like Anna from Frozen, "What? Hi me?" We also got to go to the market for the first time. They have security people with AK47s at most street corners... kinda scary. I spent 784 pesos!!! Hehe, that's under $20. ;) I was gonna be brave and try a bunch of Filipino snacks but I chickened out and got a bunch of American food. I'm scared having it in my room though because I've seen 3 huge cockroaches here in the past few days, and they bite!
Well I'm already sick of rice. I have been since day 2 because we have it with every meal. The food is really good though. Very different, but really good.
I have so much to say! I wish there were more time. It's flying by! Spiritually, it's been like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. You get a little bit but mostly, it just hurts your face. I love you all so much and hope that you're doing well! I'm praying for all of you and hope you'll continue to keep in touch. I don't have time to respond to emails every week but I'm definitely trying.
Sister Wilson

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