Every day I am reminded why I love the Philippines so much and I grow to love it and the people more and more. I love riding home each night in the Jeepney and feeling like I helped people in the Philippines each day. I also don't mind the music that plays. A little taste of normal life. It is sad that I have been gone long enough that new songs have come out. I hear American songs that I don't recognize and that makes it feel like a lot of time has passed. The food is sooo good. I am trying so many things that I didn't before. I am going to learn how to make all of the good dishes so I can make them when I get home. The Filipino in our apartment does all the cooking, but I said I will help her so I can learn. There is this bakery right by our house and they have banana bread! My favorite! It is completely different than what I am used to, but SO GOOD! Despite the food that made me sick, I love almost everything else. I also got over my sickness- it took a while, but I am good now!
So this week me and my companion traveled to Catanduarnes for a few days to go on exchanges with the sisters there. It was so, so, so beautiful! I would love to serve there at some point. I worked with Sister Papica- she is a Filipina. She made me talk to so many people as we walked around! I gave out a ton of pamphlets. It was scary but it felt so great to talk to people. They are so kind and excited that I know any Tagalog at all. I was also to commit a 17 year old boy named JV to baptism is a lesson. It was amazing! The spirit was so strong and he thanked us with such sincerity as we left. He is so smart and I see so much potential in him. He will be an outstanding member of the church. I got to see Elder Benson from my district while we were there. It felt so good to see a familiar face and talk about how we are doing. I have no pictures though because my camera doesn't work. I am going to try and get it fixed right after this. My companion took pictures that I will try and forward to you though. oh- there was a total Stu moment on the Island. So we went to do service at a members house. We weeded in her garden. She gave us a break and made us "coconut soup"- you would have loved it Stu! You should try to make it. So her son just climbs up the tree and throws down a bunch of coconuts. Then they cut them open with a machete, pour the juice into a big bowl, scoup out the coconut in chunks into the bowl then add crushed ice and condensed milk. SO MASARAP! You would have loved it! You are going to love it here Stu! They said you can add different juices and stuff to it too. Buy a coconut and make some and think of me!
Last Monday we went to family home evening at a family's house. The father is the former bishop. They are one of the families in our ward that is well off and they made us THE BEST MEAL I have ever had! I ate I think 5 mangoes. I felt so at home there. Apparently they have us over once a week so that is something to always look forward to! They have 3 sons and a puppy! The cutest puppy I have ever seen! And not one they are going to eat. They are such a happy family. They make me feel so welcome and always make me laugh.
I saw my first giant spider! Apparently it was a small one...but it was the size of my hand. It was crawling on the wall in our apartment. I freaked out while my Companion just swept it outside. One day I will be fine when I see giant spiders.
The language gets better and better each day, but I still feel like an idiot. I don't think people understand what I am trying to say so they just smile at me. I talk as much as I can in lessons, but my dompanion usually has to clarify what I am saying. I am really looking forward to that day when I am fluent. Me and my companion stand out so much it is unreal. Everyone just stares because she is a giant and I am blonde and white. Everyone wants to talk to us though so that is good! My companion laughs because everyone says hi to me and says "Kana, Kana." She said they are used to seeing her because she has been in this area for 6 months. At church yesterday some of the members were telling me I have the voice of an angel and should join the choir. We all know that I have the WORST voice ever. haha so it's funny that they think I am a good singer.
So much to tell you about...We have 2 new investigators from OYMing (Open your mouth) this week! The first is a woman. We went to visit an investigator at her work, but she wasn't there so we talked to her coworker and she was very interesting in our message. She wants us to go back and teach her. I am constantly surprised at how accepting people are and how desperate they are to hear our message and find truth in this crazy world. People are ready to learn about the gospel and why they are here. The next was a girl my companion just started talking to as we walked. She was so amazed that we came all the way here to be missionaries. She introduced us to some of her family and wants us to come back and teach all of them! YAY!
On Friday we went to teach one of our investigators that is 9 years old. She lives with her grandma who is a member. She went and got a ton of her friends to listen to our message- some members and some not. I absolutely loved teaching a herd of little kids. I can speak simply and therefore they understand my Tagalog. They were so cute! I adore the kids here! They remind me of the kids I taught in Iloilo. After that lesson we went and taught a mother and her children. She is an investigator. We taught her and her children about the restoration. They were all so interested and wanted to know all about it. The younger kids loved looking at the pictures in the pamphlet we gave them. It felt so good to teach people that wanted to learn. They are such a happy family. The mother had a baby girl who is so cute! She would giggle so much when I talked to her! Their family calls me Sister Barbie. They told me I should be Miss America- I told them they need to see more Americans and then they will think differently. Apparently white skin makes you automatically beautiful here.
On Saturday there was a baptism for an 8 year old from an active family in the ward and I was one of the speakers! Major Taglish! It went well though. The little girl was excited to have the American speaking to her haha. After the ward had a ton of delicious food! I love my ward! They all are so welcoming and help me with my Tagalog and are patient as I try to have conversations with them. And they make amazing food.
I really feel the importance of this work. I love sitting in homes and feeling the spirit and seeing people change. I love walking around and talking to people and telling them about what our purpose is as missionaries. My testimony of this gospel and missionary work keeps me going each day. I want to help people be happy by coming unto Christ. This gospel is all about being happy. We can be happy as we strive for eternal life through the Atonement. I know it is true and I am so happy to have this year and a half to be a full time missionary and representative of Christ. The challenges people face here are unreal. Some of our investigators literally have nothing and the only happiness some of the members find is through the gospel. I want to help these people so badly and I hope that I can.
To answer some of your questions mom- I am not sick anymore. My companion is warming up and I love her! I am glad that she is hardworking. She wears me out every day. It is sooo hot! Except for the saturday and sunday were awesome! It was rainy so it cooled down a lot, but today it is hot again. I am sweaty all the time. I am thankful to live in America, but i am glad I get to experience the third world for a while! Tell everyone hi and I miss and love them! Thanks for the encouraging emails and prayers!
Love you all so much! Thanks for the support! Miss you all!
MAHAL- Sister Gardner
|Traveling to Catanduarnes|
|Boat to Catanduarnes|
|My companion and missionary roommates|
|My companion and I en route to Catanduarnes|
|Service day with sister missionaries|