My companion, Sister Manosig, is from Manilla. She has only been here for a little while, she did her 12 weeks of training, one 6 week transfer, and now she is training me. There are a lot of questions about the rules. I think her first two companions didn't really follow them so she doesn't know all of them. I keep bringing some up, so slowly but surely we will be able to be strictly obedient as a companionship instead of just me. I know it's hard for her too. She is kind of stressed out sometimes because she has to take the lead in all of the lessons and keep track of all of the investigators. We have so many that I haven't even met all of them yet even though we go teach every day. I am teaching all in Hiligaynon, which is really fun. Sis. Manosig was surprised that I could already speak it. What I say is very simple, but I'm working on more vocab for everyday use instead of just gospel vocab. Sis. Manosig thinks I will be a trainer as soon as my 12 weeks of training are up because there are too many sister missionaries coming in, we will all have to train. She said she hasn't heard anything wrong with my grammar either, which is a miracle. I know that the gift of tongues is real, because there is no way I would be able to teach all these children of God, without His help. Sis. Manosig speaks Tagolog and learned Hiligaynon when she got here. So I don't really know how well my grammar is, because I don't really know how well she knows it either. She speaks a little English, but we are working on communicating with one another. The first couple of days were really hard because I had so many questions, (my coping mechanism) but she didn't really know what I was saying. After the first two days though, everything was okay. She is 24 and got her nursing degree in Manilla, so don't worry mom, she won't let me die.
To answer some of your questions... we are living in a little apartment with two other sisters (they don't speak that much english either). (This may sound bad, but it has been so long since I've seen an American or white person, and you kind of just miss it. I feel a little alone sometimes because no one really understands me and I only know how to express myself a little bit in Hiligaynon. But everytime I pray, I feel the love of Heavenly Father, and I know that I am never alone. He is our constant companion. I rely on Him now more than I ever have in my life, and I know these experiences are tremendous blessings because of that.) We have bunk beds and two little bathrooms. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who uses toilet paper, and I don't know how to ask how to do it the other way, so for now I'm just going to pray that we don't run out. The food is okay. The first couple of days weren't bad, but now I'm feeling the effects of no fruits or vegetables. Just rice and meat, and I don't eat a lot of meat because my companion prepares it, and even though she is an amazing cook, and it tastes really good, sometimes I question my safety (healthwise). But don't worry mom, I'm being careful and I'm taking all my vitamins and drinking lots of pure, clean water! My hair... yeah, I stopped doing it in the MTC. I just shower and it dries during personal study and then sometimes I pin my bangs out of my face, (like it is in the facebook pictures Pres. Lopez took) The little filipino children are so curious about my yellow hair that is so puffy. Haha, they are so cute. At church, all of the primary children came up to me and said in English and in Hiligaynon, "You are so beautiful!" I always tell them they are beautiful too and they smile really big. The always stroke my arms too because my skin is white and they just want to touch it. When we go proselyting and I meet investigators for the first time, they always tell my I am so "guapo" or beautiful. At first I felt kind of awkward, because that it not the normal reaction I receive in America, but even though I still feel weird about it, because I know they just think I'm cute because I'm white, fat, and have blue eyes - I take the opportunity to complement them and start asking them questions about themselves.
Laundry is very interesting here. Haha, my companion taught me how to do it the filipino way this morning. I don't think my clothes will be clean until I get home in two years. Haha, she said the water here is not very clean compared to where she is from, so if she doesn't think they are clean, I definitely don't.
I love these people so much! They are so kind and loving and very patient with my slow Hiligaynon. Even though I got homesick for the first time in my life, at least I think that is what I'm feeling, it always goes away as soon as we start working. I know that I am here for a reason and that is what I am holding on to. I love it here, even though it's hard, and I am so excited to continue to feel the holy ghost with these people. Really quick, we had an investigator who felt the spirit for the first time, and even though it was burning hot (I am consistently dripping... literally, not figuratively) he was shivering and started tearing up. I was definitely spiritually fed and I hope he never forgets that moment. Because those are the moments we hold on to and always remember so we will recognize the spirit when He comes again.
I know this Church is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is True. I know that the Holy Ghost can give personal revelation to all of us and that we can be spiritually strengthened and edified through Him and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I love this Gospel and I love all of you and the support you give me!
Palangga mo Kamo!! Sister Ashley Smoot