Spiders, lizards, dirt floors and tarps, Following the spirit, The Faith of Investigator Lope
I don't think there are any treats I miss.... you can get stuff here, it's just expensive:) I mostly just love letters. Emails are great because I definitely get them for the week and I can print them out for later. To address dad's questions: The money situation is good. I only use the support we get each month and it is plenty. Don't worry, I'll let you know if I need anything. My apartment is one of the nicer ones. We are really lucky we have tile floors instead of concrete and since we have four missionaries living here our kitchen is pretty big and we have two bathrooms (one shower). They have been remodeling since I got here and just finished so now it looks really nice with new paint and everything.
There are always bugs and spiders and I always have a few new bites in the morning, but nothing too harsh. I'll survive, don't freak out. There are also lizards EVERYWHERE. haha, always crawling on all of the walls, but you just kind of ignore them. They used to freak me out in the shower, maybe like a privacy issue or something. But I'm really used to them now so they're not a big deal. We don't have mice or rats in our apartment (blessing from GOD!) But we see them all the time in the members' homes. I'm trying to take a picture of one of the neighborhoods so you will have an idea of where we are serving and teaching. Mostly just dirt floors and bamboo walls and roofs (or tarps for the roofs). We teach while sitting on planks of wood or sometimes broken old plastic chairs... they offer their best always and give us everything they have. That was the hardest for me. I just wanted to sit in the mud and let them sit in the two chairs that they own, but it would be rude to refuse and they just want to give you everything. The people are so giving to everyone. The culture here is like a huge family. Everyone knows everyone and everyone lives everywhere. Haha.
Jenna is doing great! I see her every Tuesday and I love it. She is so cute about everything and loves all the new food and travel and is doing really well with all of the dirt and bugs. She fits right in and is thriving. She really has an excitement for everything and it is really neat and I'm sure her investigators appreciate and want her happiness and joy that she shares.
A couple funny things that happened this week:
1. There was a little girl who we met in one of the back ditches behind one of the villages on our way to an appointment, we were a little early and she was so cute so I was asking her her name and age and about school....She's like 9 I think. Well after a couple days we were in the same area and we saw her again. She saw me, took a deep gasp and started jumping up and down and ran straight towards me and wrapped her arms around my legs (still screaming). I was laughing so hard. I didn't know what was going on because she was talking way too fast. But her excitement seriously made my whole day. I don't think anyone has every been that excited to see me. AAHHHGGG! I'm just so excited to find her family and teach them. That's the thing here though, it's impossible to find people. Since there are no addresses, you just have to start asking around if people know certain last names and start literally searching for their house. There are so many houses and people though, it's almost impossible. We definitely need the Lord's help always.
2. During church one of the young women girls was talking about CTR and one of the young men said, "Cook The Rice?" I just died laughing. Now everytime I hear CTR, I'm going to think of the mounds and mounds of rice I've already shoveled in.
3. We were playing an FHE game similar to the "water game," but instead of throwing a thimble of water, you have to brush baby powder on their cheek. The only problem was, that since I'm white, you can't even see the powder. So all the kids were like, "give her coal dust instead!" Their mom was laughing so hard she almost fell off her chair. (I've also been called a fire fly at night because my white skin 'glows in the dark') Haha.
So on Wednesday, President Lopez and Sister Lopez came to our apartment to watch our companionship study. President Lopez stayed with us and observed how we study and took a lot of video (kind of nerve wracking). I'm not sure what the videos were for, but I'm pretty sure he came to ours because I've expressed feelings of confusion in my letters. He really helped us learn what to do and how to study. I know we are really lucky to get to have personal instruction from our Mission President. We did some practice teaching and he observed and helped critique some of the things we are doing. Basically, it helped my companion Sister Manosig and I get on the same page.
This week went a lot better than the previous weeks. Instead of getting frustrated (which just leads to anger, according to PMG), I realized I needed to have a greater Faith in God that he won't let me fail if I'm doing my best. I work hard, but I needed to stop being to prideful that I put all the responsibility on myself and forget whose work I'm doing. This is His work, and the Holy Ghost can testify of our authority and the power of scriptures and following God's plan. It's not only up to me to convince them. Otherwise missionary work would fail, because we are all imperfect teachers. But I present the information as clearly as I can and love the people with all my heat and seek to sincerely help them, then the Spirit will testify of the truth and really convince them. I've seen it work.
We have an investigator Lope. He is the first investigator that I actually started teaching from the beginning. I think I missed his first lesson, but I've been there for his whole progression. He didn't have enough money to get to church the first few weeks, but said he would try. So Sister Manosig and I told him we would pick him up. We rode the Jeepney out to his village early one Sunday and asked him and his family if they would come to Church with us. Brother Lope and one of his daughters (6 years old) came to church with us. They had dressed in their best clothes and you could really feel their excitement. We rode to church and it was just a normal church day. They had to leave after the first two hours because Brother Lope is working a lot of jobs to keep his family fed, but we didn't get to say goodbye. The next tuesday we visited with him, and he shared his experience of prayer. He said that he felt he needed to come to church, but he knew he didn't have enough money to come. He prayed to Heavenly Father to provide a way for him to get to church. On Saturday, at work, someone he didn't even know tipped him 100 pesos. (about two and a half dollars, but still, that's a lot, that's as much as some people make in a whole day) He said he knows that the Lord gave him that money. He also said he has never been this happy before since he went to Church. Basically, I was stoked. I know that the Lord is doing so much more than we even see. As much as we help and teach, the Lord is preparing these people and blessing them for their faith. Brother Lope has now been to church three Sundays in a row, and we are approaching his baptismal date on Aug. 3. I love teaching him and his family, and I know he is a great example to them. I'm excited to continue teaching his family and eventually get them to church so he will be able to baptize his family. His faith every day is inspiring. He says, he knows God will provide the way. We hadn't even shared that scripture with him yet. I know without a doubt, that this is the Lords work. That he loves all of his children, and he answers prayers that are based off sincere faith and trust in God.
I love you all! Thanks for all your letters and love. Seriously, I love you all.