This week was full of so many ups and downs. I'm still getting adjusted to the food and the culture and sometimes it's frustrating because I will go for so long without knowing what people are saying. The older people are the hardest to understand because their voices are more slurred and they talk really fast. But it's coming day by day and step by step. I try not to think about home because it makes me miss all of you. I'm keeping my eye single to the glory of God. It helps with the homesickness because when I start feeling sad or discouraged (mostly meaning I've been focusing on myself) I just think about all of our investigators and less active ward members and what I can do to better help them. It's challenging to keep track of all of them because we have so many, but I'm never sad when I'm focused on them. I know the Lord blesses me because of my service and I want my whole heart focused on them.
Happy Birthday Ally! I'm writing you a hand letter because I'll have more time later, but just know I love you and I can't believe you are 18!! Woo Hoo, welcome to adulthood. Everyone here thinks I am 15 years old. They are always so curious to ask me how old I am. I tell them I'm 20 and they are shocked. It's supposed to be a complement to look young, but sometimes I feel like they don't always want to listen to what I have to say because they view me as a little kid. But I know that when I speak the Truth of the Gospel, they always listen. Also, a lot of the members have been asking me if I'm Japanese. Haha! Even the Asians think I look Asian. One of the ward members, Brother Jared, told me I had Japanese Eyes. I just laughed. I think that's a Woolf gene. Thanks mom.
One day we were stopping by the apartment to use the CR (bathroom) and there was a little boy out front begging for money. We aren't supposed to give them any money so Sis. Manosig gave him a pack of cookies. He opened it up and crushed up the cookies and through them on the ground. He ran away but it kind of freaked me out. Then the next day, he came back begging for bread. I wasn't sure what to do, but he was so starving, his bones were literally jutting out of his sides. I decided to give him a few pieces of bread since we had a lot and it was probably going to go bad anyway. He took it this time and shared it with his little brother. I don't know what the rules are on giving food away, but I know that service is always the best policy. Even if they don't always appreciate it, I hope they remember the missionaries and want to investigate the church later in their life.
Seeing Jenna was so fun! Kind of hard, since it reminded me of home, but so good! We went to the bathroom to hug since there is no hugging in public. But it was good to get a long squeeze in. She is so cute, I don't know how she finds time to get ready, but she always looks so cute.
My feet! Haha, they are always dirty from all of the floods and they are still adjusting to all of the walking so a lot of the time they have soars and bug bites on them. I took a picture I'm going to try and send, but I thought it was so funny because normally I'm oddly particular about the cleanliness of my feet and I always wear shoes. Now I just live with dirt and bugs so I've adjusted. It's always dirty, but I love it because you walk into people's homes (four walls made out of boards or tarps) and realize, they've never been in a super clean place before. They literally sleep in the dirt. It's very humbling and hard to complain when we are constantly reminded how blessed I've been. The church houses are all tile to make it easier to clean, so they look a little different. We had 95 members show up for church this week, which went down from the 115 last week. I hope I'm not scaring them away! We had a baptism on Saturday, the other sisters in our apartment had three investigator children baptized. One of the little girls was the one who wouldn't stop rubbing my arms because they are so white. Haha, so cute.
The weather hasn't been that bad and the only time I was hot was the first week. Sweat was literally dripping from my chin onto a puddle on the floor. I felt kind of bad, but I cleaned it up before we left. Good thing the floor was cement. The food is okay. Haha, one day of the runs, one day of constipation, but I'm drinking a lot of water and I take breaks from the filipino food and eat American Cereal with powdered milk.
On Sunday we traveled to Villia, which is 15 minute Jeepney ride away and picked up 2 investigators and some less actives. They haven't been coming to church so we went to "remind" them. They came, but I'm praying they come on their own next week. There is only so much we can do. There are so many less active members here. Out of 600,000 members in the Philippines, only 100,000 are active. So a huge part of our work is reactivation, along with our mission vision of weekly baptisms. It keeps us busy, but I know the Lord with help us with such a large goal. I know this Church is true and sometimes I am really hard on myself because I want to help everybody right now and I'm not always patient with myself. I want to implement everything from the MTC, but I need to be patient with my trainer and be humble enough to learn from her. We don't always agree and we don't always understand each other (language wise) so sometimes I just feel like crying because I want to do everything according to the rules and Preach My Gospel and I want to go go go and teach teach teach and she just kind of takes her time. Sorry for my ranting, but I just get frustrated because sometimes I feel like I could be doing more. I'm the only one in my apartment who works out for 30 minutes, and I'm pretty sure if I didn't wake up at 6:30 no one else would. It's a lot of pressure to keep moving and being passionate about this work, so I'm praying that my dedication and diligence persists, because no one here is going to remind me of my purpose. It's up to me and I know that the Lord helps me and guides me daily. Everyday I remind myself that I will not have any regrets, and will give my all. I know that this Church is true, and I know that I'm doing the Lord's work, and it is only through Him that we will be able to get those weekly baptism and save each individual soul by introducing them to Christ. The time is going faster and faster and it scares me that I only have 16 months left. I view every day as a precious day and every hour as a precious hour. I love you all and I pray for you daily. I love your letters and your support! I got grandma Smoot's letter 10 days after she sent it, so the mail here is relatively good!
I love you so much and I'm grateful for your examples in my life. Good luck with everything!!!!
Love Sister, Smoot
There are so many pictures and I don't have enough time to load all of them (it's like 10 minutes per picture)
Two of my MTC teachers. Sister Tamang (just got back from Bacolod when we got into the MTC) and Brother Oldroyd. They are so amazing!
This one is a picture of my feet. It's not even the worst one, but walking through flooded sewer water is pretty good. Maybe it's good exfuliation? Haha. The pictures are taking way too long to load so I don't know how many I will send. I'll start earlier next week!