Wow... this week has been insane, but don't worry, I'll wake up soon and still be in the MTC... at least, that's what I keep telling myself. :) Ha... I waiting so long to get out of there and now all I want is to wake up in our residence and have a full day of MTC-life to look forward to. Instead I wake up to the sound of airplanes, three or four or twenty-two roosters cockle-doodle-dooing, sometimes people cheering at some type of rooster-fighting competition, lots of rain, and the sound of tricycles driving by on the street. Good thing I really like sound when I sleep, right? :)
So I'm here, on my mission, and I have absolutely no clue what anyone is saying except for when they ask my companion, Sister Quinco, if I speak any Tagalog, to which I respond that I speak a little, and then prove them wrong by remaining silent for basically the rest of the conversation. It's great. :)
Everything I've eaten here tastes great, no lie! All the meat does indeed taste like chicken and for a recovering vegetarian I'm doing pretty darn well. It's smelly, and dirty, and rainy, and everybody drives like they're drunk, but somehow it's beautiful here. The people here have nothing, but they are very nice and still happy. I'm still trying to get used to the staring. Everywhere I go you can hear "Amerikano" or "foreigner" or my personal favorite from a boy who I swear had to be ten years old "Hey Doll," except it was sa Tagalog. So strange.
I'm experiencing severe culture shock. The worst was on my second day when we went to the grocery store. I had no clue what anything was or how the money worked and desperately tried to find brands I recognized such as "Dole" and "Tresemme". It was a disaster! Seriously.... I think the only thing that kept me here those first two days was getting to ride tricycles. :) (tricycles in the Pines are motorcycles with a modified side cart)
With all that being said, the real reason I'm still here is because I know I'm supposed to be here. That was the reason I left on my mission in the first place and I'm still hanging on to that confirmation that I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Our Heavenly Father loves the people here. I can feel it so strongly. Since I can't understand anything anyone is saying for the most part, I've really been trying to focus on what I can feel as we teach our investigators and less-active members. I can feel the love God has for His children we teach. It's overwhelming sometimes, such as when we teach Brother and Sister Sambo, who, along with their eight-year-old daughter C.J., will be baptized this Saturday. :) God loves them so, so much. It kind of leaves me with no choice but to love them too.
I really enjoyed getting to attend church yesterday. The members in the ward were so friendly and kind. Our whole sacrament meeting was focused on missionary work. We're really trying to emphasize the importance of the role of members in finding people for us to teach. I didn't know this before, but in PMG in talks about how members are supposed to find and missionaries are supposed to teach. It makes sense now that I think about it, because that way the investigators already have a built-in support system.
Saying good-bye to my MTC district was super tough. Luckily, Sister Umstead is in my district and Elder Anderson is in my zone so I will see both of them tomorrow at our district meeting, where, for some reason, we meet as a zone. :) I've been worried about them all week ( yeah, sometimes you just can't let go of things like being the older sister to your siblings:)) but that's okay, because worrying about how they're doing has helped me to not focus so much on worrying about myself. Elder Martin was assigned to the Mindoro area, which here is known as "The Promised Land" or "The Rock." Apparently we're all supposed to be jealous, but before he left he told me that he could only take like 50 lbs. of luggage on the plane and so I wasn't really that jealous. :) I am currently serving in the Pasig Zone which is, from what I've heard, the least desired area in our mission. At least I have everywhere else to look forward to serving in, right?
We do have an actual shower that works. The water is cold so thank goodness for the experiences I had taking cold showers after swim team practice. Sorry Frank... You'll have to wait to write me odes about "Norman." ;) Our toilet on the other hand is currently broken... Hurray.
Sorry... nobody here understands my sarcasm so I may be going overboard in this email...
My kasama, Sister Quinco, and I get along really well. She's very patient with me. She's a Filipina. Cebuano is her native language followed by English and then Tagalog, so thankfully we can communicate with each other. She's been letting me teach bits and pieces of our lessons which I appreciate, otherwise I'm never going to learn this language. Most of what I say is in English, pero I speak as much Tagalog as I know. Making sure that we teach people and not just lessons is very important to both Sister Quinco and I, so even though they can't always understand everything I say, sa English, we both feel like it's important that I follow the Spirit and teach them what I feel they need, even if it is in a different language. She translates when needed. :)
I so, so, so miss my previous kasama, yes Sister Alailima, that is you.... I know, I know; "alam ko, alam ko." :) I miss Sister Alailima's strength, sense of humor, and friendship. I was so blessed to be such great friends with her pero I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing her again... hopefully some day... soonish. ;)
I've been missing the stupidist things from the MTC... I knew I was in trouble yesterday when we sang "Scatter Sunshine" in one of our church meetings and I almost lost it and started bawling. I hate that song. Our whole MTC district knew it and so they, particularly my wonderful, beautiful kasama, would sing it often, sa Tagalog. So of course there we were in the church building yesterday, singing that song and all I could think of were my district brothers and sisters and man... now I'm going to start crying just thinking about it!
Just kidding... I don't cry. But really, I haven't cried yet... which is apparently abnormal. So what's new.
On Thursday, we went to the chapel with Brother and Sister Sambo so they could have their baptismal interviews with the district leader. The district leader is training an elder from my "MTC-batch", Elder Despain, who was not in my district or zone but did come to the same mission at the same time. Poor Elder... I though I was experiencing culture shock... this Elder was completely drained. He fell asleep through all of Sister Sambo's interview and for the rest of the night just looked like a zombie. Not going to lie... seeing him made me feel a whole lot better about how I was doing.
Sorry... I always feel like my emails should be more spiritual than they are... Just know that my testimony is continuing to grow and that I have strong testimony of the things I am teaching, right now particularly in having faith in Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost. I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers on my behalf and for all the missionaries in general. We need it! :)
Until next week!
Love, Sister Dickison