So much has happened and I don't know where to start. The Manila MTC was awesome. We got to go the temple and the local missionaries from Manila took some of us to go teach downtown Manila. I can't express to you how intense that was. I've never seen so much people and poverty in my life. All the Filipino children kept running up at me and wanting to touch my white skin hahaha. I think that's when the culture shock hit me. We taught a few lessons, all in Tagalog, so naturally I had no idea what was going on, but I had so much fun. We were only in the Manila MTC for 5 days and then I left with the other 15 missionaries on the 6 hour bus ride to Baguio. Hey guess what? BAGUIO ISN'T COLD. Yeah I found that out the hard way. It's only cold if your assigned to Baguio City itself. But the mission Baguio....is hot/humid like no other. We met President Balledos and he's just awesome. In my interview he told me that he's going to need my leadership skills later and if I work hard everything will work out. President Balledos asked me if there was anything I wanted. I told him I wanted a Filipino companion. And now that takes us to Elder T...
Elder T. is my first companion/trainer. And he is a Filipino. What else can I say about him? With Elder Tating, there is a lot of "small talk." Sometimes in our lessons he can "short" with me. And I wouldn't consider him a, "larger then life" kinda guy. Okay I'm down. Elder T. is short. But so are all Filipinos. Hahaha I love him so much. He speaks really good English and is REALLY obedient. At the Transfer Meeting where we get assigned our trainer, when I was put with Elder T., all the other missionaries freaked out. Because apparently I was getting trained by a legend. Elder T. has only been out for 3 months but his trianer, Elder S., is now a legend in Baguio. Here's some background. Elder S. became district leader after 3 months, then was made Zone Leader and then worked in the office, where then became a Assistant to the President (AP) and he was an AP for over a year. Which is crazy. And all the missionaries here loved Elder S. Well when it came down to his last 3 months before he was going to go home. Elder S. asked if he could train before he left and President Balledos said yes. So he trained one elder. Elder T. And they killed it. Elder T. is already awesome but with Elder S. skills they had a lot success together. So I had no idea about this obviously. So when I was assigned to Elder T. to train me, even though he's only been out for 3 months that show's you how awesome he is, everyone was freaked out and said I was really lucky. And I am so lucky to have Elder T. He's been helping me with my Tagalog and adjusting with everything else. Elder T. is amazed by my work ethnic and the fact that I don't need much sleep and wake up early. Hahaha And he finds it really funny that I literally say hi to everyone, even though I have no idea how to speak Tagalog. And Elder Tating is smart.
My first area and the area we're at right now is called, "Aringay." And lets just say there haven't been much Americans or white people in this area. So me walking around has been the talk of this small town. We walk by and I just start talking to people and they invite us in their home because they've never talked to an American before and then once we're in their home, Elder T. starts to teach hahaha. It's pretty effective. I get us in the home and Elder T. teaches them. Speaking of lessons, our lessons have been so awesome! Elder T. is such an awesome teacher. There are so many less-actives in our area and that's the majority of who we teach. A lot of the Filipino's have a basic understanding of English because, they watch English/American movies here in the Philippines. They can't speak it well but most of them can undertsand a little bit. Which has been really good for me. Tagalog is still a struggle but I'm learning more with Elder T. There's also another dialect that's really common in my area that I have to start learning. It's called, "Linnacano." Yeah that's the last thing I need is to learn another language. Oh and it's not that similar to Tagalog. The church is true.
One thing that is really funny with the Filipinos is that EVERYONE has a cellphone. And I mean everyone. We walk by these huts and ragged homes but there sitting outside talking to someone on there iPhone. I'm not joking. Most Filipinos are really worldly. They are content with there poverty and instead of saving money and trying to make a better life they buy cell phones and what not. The Philippines is the No. 1 texting country in the world. Look it up.
The lessons have been great and I've never felt the Spirit so strong. These people here have such faith. The members here are so awesome and have welcomed me with open arms. And who told me that I was going to lose weight here? Well they're liars. Every time we walk by people, members or not, invite us in there homes for a meal or snack. It's just how they do it here. Even though they don't believe in our religion they recognize us has representatives of Jesus Christ and they respect that. People go to the local markets and buy us soft drinks and snacks. Yeah there's no why I'm losing weight.They don't use toilet paper here in the Philippines. I won't go in depth. Let's just say that has been a major adjustment.
Last night we were teaching this family of 6 daughters outside their home, the Plan of Salvation. Well it started to rain use we squeezed together on their tiny porch for cover. I took out my Plan of Salvation pieces and taught the Plan of Salvation on the floor. I tried to use the little Tagalog that I knew but the Spirit was so strong. This is what I pictured my mission being. Here I am under this hut with this Filipino family, while it's pouring outside, teaching the gospel. I swear I could this forever.
I wish I can say more but we got things to do. I love you all. More now then ever. I want you to know that God loves His children and we're not alone. The Atonetment is real. I believe in the power of prayer. The Book of Mormon can bring more peace into your life then anything in the whole world. Keep me in your prayers and I love you all.
Your Valiant Missionary,