Thank you for your prayers! I seriously need them right now!!!! This week has without a doubt been the hardest week of my life and I'm trying really hard to keep myself together.
We woke up Tuesday morning to some of the streets flooded up to my knees or thighs. Fortunately we were very safe in our second floor, elevated apartment. But I know of others who were flooded and even had to evacuate. :(
Thursday was, to be quite honest, a really, really terrible day. I woke up to having stomach issues... hurray... but they weren't as bad as they could have been. Fortunately our toilet got fixed and I was kind of expecting it after all of the really weird food I've been eating. I took the medicine Mom gave me and by the next day I was just fine. But we didn't go out and work very much that day and so I had to spend way too much time alone with my thoughts in my bed as I tried to sleep. I don't think I've ever prayed so long and so hard for help before. Emotionally I'm really, really struggling. I feel like all of the language I learned at the MTC is gone. So I'm trying to learn a language pretty much all by myself in the little time I have.
However, I've also had the highest highs this week. On Saturday we took three of our investigators to the temple for a temple tour. It was amazing! It was great to be there with them and to see so many, many other missionaries. It was especially great because I got to see Elder Phelps, Elder Schenk, Elder Anderson, and Sister Koloi and Sister Alailima there. We're talking pure joy on all of our faces when we saw each other!!! I miss them all so much! We are all feeling lonely and very American.
I have learned that the Philippines IS a third world country and that talking about a third world country and living in a third world country are two very different things.
I’m beginning to understand now how difficult Dad’s first few weeks and months in Chile must have been. I'm now living it, and, again, it's one thing to talk about it and another thing to experience it. I really enjoyed reading the article he sent me at the MTC. I pulled it out this week and was greatly comforted by its words about having faith instead of fear. It's been weird because even though I know I'm not alone and that I have everyone at home cheering me on and my district here experiencing the same thing and most importantly the companionship of the Holy Ghost and our Savior and God, I still feel so incredibly lonely. I never understood the culture barriers that would come from being the only American in my apartment. I'm trying to teach myself a new language and a new culture and a new way of living and you know, the other normal missionary stuff, and it's all so overwhelming! I’m trying to be patient with myself and with learning the language, but it is really difficult when others bust up laughing at you when you are trying so hard to speak a new language.
Thank you Dad for all of the advice and wisdom you have given me. My testimony is growing in leaps and bounds it feels with every second that I'm here because if I don't turn to the Lord and rely on Him not just partially, but completely, I'm never going to get through this. I'm being humbled in so many, many ways that I hadn't expected and while it's been insanely difficult I'm grateful for every day and for every difficult thing I'm going through. You know I've always valued self-reliance and I'm quickly learning that it's more important to give your all to God. I thought I understood that before I came here, but I'm still learning what it means to trust Him completely and not hold anything back.
I better understand now why the members of our whole zone at the MTC had similar personality traits. I definitely takes a certain personality to survive not just the external culture here but the social culture as well. Still... I can't do any of this on my own, right now I feel like I can't do anything on my own. I have to have God's help and control just to get out of bed every single morning.
With all that being said, back to the happy stuff.... :) Sister Sambo, Brother Sambo, and their daughter C.J. were baptized on Saturday and confirmed members of our church yesterday. It was so, so, so wonderful and they've become very dear friends of mine. I'm so happy for them and for the joy they are in my life right now. I also was so grateful to do the temple tour with the Martinez children. They are so sweet and I'm so excited for them to be baptized.
Thank you for praying for me! And thanks to everyone for emailing to me. I wasn't homesick in the MTC but man... I've sure been struggling here. I had a nightmare a few nights ago that was particularly scary, about dogs trying to attack our home again... It was terrible when I woke up, not only because of you know, the nightmare, but because it was the first time I've dreamt about our home and it and all of you were so very real in my dream and I was so hungry for all of it... gosh... now I'm crying again...
Since Thursday I've been feeling a lot better though it may be hard to tell and my faith has grown stronger. :) Yesterday while the other sisters were sleeping and I was desperately trying to do some language study I noticed how much easier the stuff I was studying came for me than it did at the MTC. I know I'm being blessed and strengthened with everything here. I just have to keep reminding myself of my progress. It's been tough, but my relationship with my Father in Heaven has kept me going :)
Well, looks like we are leaving. Until next week.
Love, Sister Dickison