Pictures from the Philippines!

Here is Jaycee with her new trainer companion. Jaycee at 5’2″ is taller than her. ūüôā

ImageHere is a picture of the “whole fried fish” she got to eat one day.

ImageAnd we have to have a picture of the toilet, right?

ImageHere is a shot of the apartment showing the sink you have to use pliers to turn on and the stove you have to light with a match. Not bad though for where she is living. They are blessed to have floors, walls, a ceiling, fans & water.

ImageAnd here it looks like she is studying with the fan blowing her hair.

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The Adventure has Started!

Well I made it safely to the Philippines! So much to tell but I guess I’ll start before I left. So it seems forever ago, but last Monday we left at 6 am. It was a LONG day of traveling but it was also pretty fun being with so many missionaries. On my longest flight to Japan, I sat next this this 19 year old guy who was going back home to¬†Taiwan¬†and I pretty much taught him the first and second discussion, shared lots of scriptures and ended up giving him a restoration pamphlet and Book of Mormon. He kept asking questions so he seemed interested, but afterwards some sisters said it seemed like he thought I was cute so I’m not sure what his real desires were. But… I think it was a blessing for me because it kind of gave me¬†confidence¬†in my teaching even if it was in English. I also gave away some other pass along cards and pamphlets and spoke to a few Filipino people. Not sure if they were interested but it was neat! When we got to Manilla I was sooo extremely tired but I think the heat and humidity woke me up. OH MY GOODNESS IT IS SOOOO HOT!!!!! Haha. I mean I knew it would be, I tried to prepare myself but it is just so hot. So it took forever to get our luggage and get to the hotel but I didn’t get to bed till 2 am Filipino time on Tuesday night. I slept with Sister Webster which was fun (a sister I knew before from BYU). The hotel was wayyy nice though and it actually had aircon.

First day in the Philippines was SO exciting. We got up at 6 am and then flew to Naga. President Bliessner and his wife were there with other¬†missionaries¬†to pick us up. It was just so hot but for some reason when I got here, I was just so happy and couldn’t stop smiling. Meeting President was great and I already love him! He is a really incredible man and I wish I could have him longer. I just really knew that this is where I’m supposed to be. Anyways, 31 new missionaries including missionaries from the MTC in Manilla came! The biggest batch they have had or probably will ever have. So we went to the mission home, took pictures, had interviews, had a testimony meeting, talked about health precautions, a sister missionary from Utah talked to us about the culture and having native companions, ate and then we went to the church to meet our trainers! Oh about food real fast, my first dinner in the Philippines: rice and chicken. First breakfast: rice and chicken. First lunch: rice and chicken. Haha no joking about the rice. Anyways so kasama!!! Her name is Sister Simbol and she is AWESOME! Seriously no joke. Heavenly Father really knew that she would be the best for me and I just really needed someone like her. She’s a native but she has very good English. She is 23 and already has her degree but she is tiny! Hopefully I’ll have time to send pictures. Anyways she has been out for 10 months and she has trained 2 other missionaries but I’m her first American. So we had a little meeting with all the trainers and new missionaries and then we went out to our areas! Oh so when we got to the mission home they gave us either an orange sticker or no sticker which meant you were green. So orange meant you were leaving that night for your area and green meant you were leaving the next day, so farther away. I am almost 99% sure that green means Legaskpi mission and orange is Naga. Sooo… my first area is the Naga 2nd ward so I’m officially in the Naga Mission! Sister Lang is Legaskpi but that’s okay. So anyways, Wednesday night after the meeting Sister Simbol helped me load my luggage onto a tricycle and go to our apartment. It was about 8 so we didn’t have time to go out and proselyte. But we did start planning and she just got right into preparing to do work the next day. I could already tell she was a hard worker and she has an amazing testimony. I was totally exhausted so I slept well and then was the start of my first day in the field.

¬†So it really was okay, but during the day I really thought I was just going to die haha. I had no idea how I was going to do this every single day for a year and a half, but I learned very soon that this is not about me and that just by simply asking for help, you WILL receive it. We started off by running which was okay because it was 6:30 am. Once we started studying though I kind of just lost it. The heat is hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it before. I knew it would be hot outside but I didn’t really think about how my apartment would be hot. All the time! We have fans but I have just never experienced sweating from just sitting there. And in humidity, you always feel dirty and sticky. I have started just folding my hands together when I pray instead of my arms because they just feel so gross haha. So anyways I think my first day I was experiencing some culture and heat shock. Well I pulled myself together so we could go out and work but I was still soooo tired from jet lag it was pretty hard to focus. We taught lots of lessons the first day which was good but I hardly could understand anything and my teaching was kind of a mess because I didn’t even know what was going on in the lesson. But… I was seriously so blessed to have Sister Simbol and she is so encouraging that I didn’t feel too bad. She is very encouraging but she was also pushing me to teach. She is extremely patient with helping me with the language and thank goodness she knows what to do cuz I still, for the most part, have no idea what is going on as far as paying for things and transportation goes. Which for transportation we walk mostly everywhere and we take the jeepney or a tricycle if it is a little farther. Everything is in pesos which is confusing but I’m kind of now starting to get a feel for it.

¬†So my second, third, fourth and now fifth day have been much better. I have really adjusted to the heat (meaning I am now okay with always feeling gross and sweating 24/7). Teaching lessons has already gotten much better and of course…. I LOVE the¬†Filipinos! I don’t have any super incredible stories yet about teaching investigators but it has been going well. Saturday was a blast cuz we had the National Day of Service. We went to the beach and planted these trees that help protect against typhoons and storms. The mud came up past my knees but it was so fun. We were able to wash off in the ocean which was fun! But the water didn’t even cover my feet cuz it was so low. Anyways there were sooooo many members there and I think we planted something crazy like 50,000 seeds. Riding on the way back to Naga city, I rode in a jeepney with some of the youth from Naga 2nd and it really just made me start loving my ward! They do think I’m rich since I have a car and they couldn’t believe that it was me on the water bottle that Haley gave me cuz I actually looked pretty in those pictures haha. Btw, after about 15 minutes in the Philippines I decided to give up what I look like haha. Don’t expect pretty pictures of me for a year and a half! Anyways the service thing was really neat. Then church on Sunday of course was great! And the church has aircon so that makes me feel like 20 times better. But anyways I bore my testimony which I think went okay. I did use some English because…. they use English too! All of church is in what I call “Bicaglish” Bicol, Tagalog and English. The Bicol just really throws me off but somehow they all understand each other. The tower of Babel really was in the Philippines. Anyways there are also elders in our ward and one is a native and the other is an Elder also from Colorado but he only has like 10 months left so his Tagalog is pretty good. We had ward coordination meeting which was okay but the ward mission leader is pretty picky and likes everything his way so hopefully he’ll be understanding that I cannot be a perfect missionary right now because I only understand like 20% of what is said. But he’s funny and I’m sure things will be good. So we taught more last night and then now today is already P-day! Luckily paying someone to do laundry is very cheap (23 pesos per kilo) so my kasama is good with doing that, but we do have to wash our garments. They are just soaking so haven’t totally experienced washing by hand yet but I’ll let you know next week.

¬†So things that I have already experienced: sunburn,¬†cockroaches¬†in the shower, mice, ants everywhere, rain and eating a whole fried fish. Well and actually as far as the culture goes, you might as well just know what is the same as America because so much is different. First of all, my apartment is nice as you will see in the pictures. Okay well not really to an American standard but from what I have seen and from how so many people live here in the Philippines, our apartment is pretty nice. A good amount of the lessons we have taught have been in little huts where the walls are built out of¬†cinder blocks¬†and trash and the roof is tin or palm tree leaves. Most people have¬†electricity but that is about it. So yes, I have already seen lots of very humble¬†circumstances¬†but the rumors are true: the people are still so happy! Maybe not everyone but they look for the best, they are grateful for what they do have and they are always kind. So I know that’s a lot about the culture but I’ll try to talk more specifics about people and stories next week. I’m gonna try to hurry and send some pictures now but I LOVE you guys and I pray for you everyday. Remember how much you are blessed with and look for the tiny miracles in life everyday. They really do happen in the mission field, even if it is just rain when I feel like I’m going to die from the heat.

 Mahal kita!

Sister Taylor

 Oh P.S. real fast: Being in Naga city definitely has benefits because there are more places to buy things (rumors are not true like not being able to find normal soap, toothpaste and deodorant like I heard in the MTC), there are places that will do you laundry which I might not have in other areas, and there are most places with aircon! You can probably tell that aircon is my new favorite thing.

Some things I was going to tell you about in my pictures, I took pictures of my apartment but just so you kind of know what it looks like for now, the walls are blue, it is pretty small, there is an upstairs, we have a bunkbed, the toilet is kind of a toilet but you just poor water down it to flush so there is no flush, luckily we have a shower head but it is all in the same room as the toilet and isn’t really what you would expect. There is mold everywhere but you get used to it. You have to use plyers to turn on the kitchen sink. We have a gas stove that you have to use matches… yeahh haha kind of like that. But like I said I’m getting used to it and I have seen much much worse. Oh we have roommates! Almost all of the sister apartments now have 4 sisters and they are great too. One is from California and she has only been here 6 weeks so it is so nice to have her to talk to. She went to BYU and she answers any questions I have about adjusting or the culture.

 

I’m REALLY going to the Philippines!!!!!

So I have my travel plans (we got them Thursday night) and I am seriously, really, no joke going to the Philippines! It doesn’t really seem real yet and I’m sure it won’t until I’m there but I am absolutely STOKED!!! (Dad, that may have been an 80’s thing but it’s back haha). I’m way scared because I know when I get there I’m going to feel like I don’t know any Tagalog… or may even wonder if they’re speaking Tagalog at all haha but I really cannot wait. It is going to be such an exciting day!

So this last week, Guro Nordstrom talked a little bit more about actually being in the Philippines. His advice for us was: NEVER drink unfiltered water, don’t bug the bugs and they won’t bug you, carry toilet paper with you and always turn down marriage proposals. It isn’t a question as to whether or not we will all be offered someone’s son or daughter, but it’s a question of how many times haha so I’m sure you’ll hear lots of marriage proposal stories.

¬†More about my district and language stuff… Guro Nordstrom told us earlier last week sometime that our district is a bit behind on the language. SCARY! So this whole time, I thought the language has been going great, which for me it has been, but I’m actually probably pretty average. Elder West and I are the most advanced in the district, but we are probably just right where we are supposed to be. But… I think I’ve realized that it doesn’t really matter where you are language wise at the MTC because just as long as you work your hardest, the language will come according to God’s time. I’m hoping I can just at least respond to the most common phrase: “Kumusta po kayo?” I talked to a native Filipino and I could hardly understand any Tagalog haha. Ahh!¬†My problem is understanding so we’ll see how that goes. But it has been fun being able to communicate more this week. Yesterday Elder West and I had a “Salitang digmaan” or a word war haha. We’re always trying to see who knows the most words. Which is fun but it also helps us challenge ourselves to keep learning more. My¬†language study has kind of turned into teaching a lot of the rest of the district, or trying to learn with Elder West.

More about Tagalog…. My favorite sentence in Tagalog is “Bababa ba?” And you¬†can¬†respond¬†with, “Bababa.” Such a sweet language.¬†Tagalog reminds me¬†of doing math and I think that’s partly why I like it so much. Very simple language.¬†

Hosting on Wednesday was so fun!! Totally liked being on the other side of hosting, instead of being the new, scared out of your mind missionary. We’re so lucky cuz we’re actually doing it again this week! Oh and last Wednesday, my friend from BYU who is going to the Philippines, Amy Porter, came and I was her host! So that was fun for both of us. And since she’s Tagalog too, she’s on the same floor as me so I get to see her a lot.

¬†So for Relief Society Sunday we heard from Mary Edmunds (not sure if you know who that is.) But anyways I guess she was the first sister missionary in the Philippines! And she served missions all over the place in Asia and she just loves missionary work. She was first of all hilarious! And she was just way inspiring. She told this really neat story about teaching an old Filipino man who spoke little English and her and her kasama didn’t know Tagalog, but by the power of the spirit they were able to teach and baptize him. We went up and gave her a hug afterwards and she told us that Filipino weather is “Hot and hotter and wet and wetter,” haha. Oh, I also liked how she said that if we serve with all our hearts, we won’t regret anything on our missions. I don’t want regrets so I’m gonna serve with all my heart!

Scriptures that stood out to me this week, 1 Nephi 7, Moroni 7:48, Mosiah 24 and Mosiah 2:21-24. So read them if you have time!

¬†For Sunday night devotional we had this great speaker who talked about how the Lord is hastening his work. For a good amount of his talk, he talked about the “I’m a Mormon” campaign. I guess in the UK they just started a new one this last Monday so google it and see if you can find anything on it cuz it was sweet. I totally would love to do advertising for the church! He also told us that the MTC is now 44% sister missionaries. Ayos!!!

So today we went to the temple for the LAST TIME! That will the longest break from the temple I’ve ever had since I started going when I was 12! But it was really good. We left the MTC at 5:30 a.m. so we could do initiatories before the 6:30 session so I’m tired but it was definitely worth it.¬†

Love,

Sister Taylor 

P.S. MOM!!! I almost forgot about your package haha. That made me SOOOOO happy! I took a picture so I’ll send that but seriously it was the cutest, funniest thing ever. I was so excited, I showed and told everyone haha. Everything in it was so thoughtful, so USEFUL which is so nice for a mission and just so sweet. You picked the best snacks and all the other stuff is going to be perfect for my mission. I already wore my Colorado shirt today for P-day. J

Here is the picture of the package I sent her that she just talked about. I had so much fun finding fun stuff to mail, and then making the tags!

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And here is a picture of the beautiful sisters in the district. ūüôā They all look so pretty and full of the spirit!

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And the whole district. Aren’t they a handsome group! (My other daughters sure think some of those elders are fun to look at, ha ha.)

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Jaycee’s comment about this picture was so funny. “We are not Elders and we won’t be riding bikes, but we are missionaries!”

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I think she is a little excited about holding her travel plans. What do you think? 

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April 9, 2013

I leave in less than 2 weeks! It has gone by soooo fast (and yet it seems like an eternity haha) but these next 2 weeks are going to fly. 

Tomorrow I am hosting! Which means I get to help all the new sister missionaries on their worst day ever! Yay! I’m actually way excited. I know at least two sisters (one including my friend Amy from BYU going to a different mission in the Philippines) coming tomorrow. This Friday we get our travel plans! Then one last temple trip next Tuesday and one last P-day and then the next Monday (22nd) I’ll be flying!¬†

So my Kasama has been having knee problems so yesterday we left campus again to go to the doctor. I had to wait in the waiting area for quite some time but I brought stuff to study so it was alright. Anyways it is so cool being in the outside world! We also had to leave again today for another appointment. But anyways, being a missionary is normal here because everyone is a missionary. Well in the outside world, everyone notices missionaries and we had lots of people ask us where we were going and things like that. Well yesterday while I was waiting, there was this 8 year old girl who broke her arm (I told her about Claire breaking her leg). She had these sticky notes and she starting writing notes back and forth to me haha. She asked where I was from, how old I was, what my favorite colors were, how many siblings I have, if I was mered (married) and if I have a boyfriend haha. So that was cute. I also talked to her mom who had been to the Philippines and she said it was hotter than Hawaii by far. She said it was the absolute worst heat she had ever felt but she said she loved the people and she said it was so pretty. So yeah, that was fun. 

Alright so conference! Of course it was awesome! And it’s neat cuz you all already know what was talked about. So we didn’t have any class on Saturday. We watched both sessions, and then the Elders watched priesthood and sisters watched the young women’s broadcast. Sunday we watched both sessions and then had¬†our usual¬†Sunday night devo and then we watched another recorded devo.¬†So I actually don’t have my notes with me (sorry!) but I’ll try to just highlight my favorite parts. I loved how Elaine S. Dalton said we need help our daughters, or just others I think, step out of the world and into God’s kingdom. Her whole talk was great in both general conference and in the YW broadcast. I think Henry B. Eyring’s talk was maybe my favorite because I felt like it really applied to some of the questions I had. I love the scripture he shared in D&C 88:65 and then I really liked how he said that if we want those around us to draw closer to our Heavenly Father, we need to do that first ourselves. I think that can especially be applied to missionaries because we need to first convert ourselves before we can convert others. Of course all the missionary talks were great! Catching the wave by Russell M. Nelson and painting a tag on our hearts by Neil L. Andersen. Oh and when Andersen said something about the Provo MTC bulging, everyone started laughing because it is so true and we have all seen it!! So neat to actually be at the MTC during conference. And we watched it in the big devotional room so there were thousands watching it together. Anyways, there was a lot about missionary work (of course I loved that) and a lot about families. Oh and also obedience which still being a new missionary, I am not perfect at but am trying to be more exactly obedient every day. I’m sure I’ll learn that lesson more out in the field. I hope everyone else enjoyed conference! Remember to continue studying and reading those talks for the next 6 months!

¬†So what you guys weren’t able to hear that I got to listen to Sunday night was so great! First of all, we didn’t have a normal speaker at the devo like we usually do. We had the BYU group,¬†Vocal Point come sing! They sounded soooo good and it was neat to see them perform. Two years ago they were on the show “Sing off” and they almost won so they are way good. And they made it really spiritual by talking in between songs and telling spiritually experiences. Then for the recorded devotional, we watched one by Elder Holland. It was about why a mission should be hard and how we can teach with power and authority. He said if a mission isn’t hard then we aren’t doing it right. I have definitely felt that already, but I also have felt so much strength and growth in myself that I am thankful for the things I have already gone through. I know the trials and blessings I’ve already seen are just a taste of what I’ll see in the mission so I can’t wait! My favorite quote that Elder Holland said though was when he answered as best as he could why missions are so hard. He said, “It wasn’t easy for Him, so why would it be easy for us.” And that can be applied to just life in general. Sometimes, especially when we are living right, we expect things to be perfect or easy. Well even when we are trying hard to live righteously, we still have to endure trials of our faith. The blessings do come, even if it isn’t in this life. But Christ went through so much for us. He has given us everything and I think reflecting on His sacrifice can help strengthen us during trials. Oh and I loved Uchtdorf’s talk about our journey. He said that we had enough faith to leave the comfort of our Father’s presence, to come down to earth so that we can grow and become more like Him. That made me think about me serving a mission. I left the comforts of my life back home to come here. And although I will grow during this experience, it is not for me. It is for all the people I will teach in the Philippines. I can’t wait

Sister Jaycee Taylor

P.S. Oh! I forgot to tell you I finished memorizing the first vision in Tagalog today! Whoowhoo!

 

April 2, 2013

Well, Jaycee will hit her halfway mark tomorrow, for her time in the MTC. It used to be that missionaries learning Tagalog were there for 9 weeks, but since there has been such a large increase of missionaries, everyone now has a shorter stay. Hers was cut down to six weeks. Here are some exerts from her most recent email.

¬†Easter was the best! I knew it would be, I mean Easter, fast Sunday and the MTC! So instead of having a huge Relief Society meeting in the morning like we usually do, we had an Easter Devotional and the Presiding Bishop Causse was there with his wife. We got to take the sacrament with 3000 missionaries which was really neat and there was a really strong spirit. I think I mentioned last week that I was planning on singing for it and I did! Sister Farnes has been sick (almost better) so Sister Lang and I went together. Getting into the choir is crazy though. The practices are Tuesdays and Sundays and last Tuesday we went an hour and 15 minutes early and there were probably like 30 people ahead of us. We went early both Tuesday and Sunday so we would be in for sure. Well thanks to Ryan, Sister Lang and I got a day of fame at the MTC haha. So he was working Sunday morning and was running the camera. He was just in charge of taking the shot and I guess there is another guy that is in charge of the length of the shots. Well Ryan put a shot on of one sister, Sister Lang and me (only 3 of us!) and for some reason, the other guy didn’t change the shot for FOREVER! I thought it was me while the shot was up there but I couldn’t look up to check. But for the rest of the day, people would walk by and say “those are the girls” or they would say how they saw us on screen. One of the counselors in my branch even came up to Sister Lang and I and asked whose boyfriend was running the camera because the length was just so long and awkward haha. I asked Ryan about it and he said it wasn’t really that long. But according to Sister Farnes and a few other sisters,¬†it was at least a whole verse¬†out of three verses;). That was kind of funny.

Anyways the rest of Easter was great! Temple walk, testimony meeting with my branch, Easter dinner (well idk about the cafeteria food but fasting was good) and then we had our Sunday devotional and we watched a recorded previous devotional. For the real one, Sheri Dew spoke! She is an incredible speaker. She talked about how our Savior isn’t just our last chance, but that He is our only chance¬†in life. She told a story about¬†her car breaking down¬†in Last Chance, Colorado on Christmas Eve during a bad blizzard. Her dad had to drive like 4 hours to come help her and her brother get home and she related that to our Savior. She said a ton of other stuff too but it was way good. Then the recorded devo was Elder Bednar and he talked about recognizing the spirit. And it wasn’t like listening to the still small voice kind of thing, his message pretty much was that if you are doing the right things, being a good boy or a good girl, then any thought you have, you should act on. He said to stop worrying about whether it is the Spirit or not because at the time, you may not even realize it was a spiritual prompting at all. He told 3 incredible stories that happened to him, but one I really liked was when he was serving as stake president (thought of you dad!). He was stake president over this geographically huge huge stake and so they would do meetings all in one Saturday of the month. Well he was supposed to lead some important stake meeting but he was missing his son’s baseball game. He looked down at the congregation and he saw an elder’s quorum president who also had a son playing in the game. Well he had the thought to leave and go to the game with this dad. So he did! His counselor took over for the meeting and they both drove 2 hours to see their sons play. Well after, he was feeling kind of guilty because he felt like he justified leaving the meeting. Then about a month later or so, the elder’s quorum president’s son was killed in a car accident. When the EQ president told Bednar what had happened, he said that he was so glad that he went to that baseball game because that was the only time he got to see him play. So good! So at the time, even Elder Bednar didn’t realize that it had been a spiritual prompting but later he realized that it had been. So especially as a missionary, I hope I can first of all be living so that I can have the spirit with me at all times, and then act on any thought I have.

¬†Random story: so Elder Lee Lo is from Tonga and so of course eating is always fun cuz he usually gets huge amounts of food. Well last week sometime for lunch, he came and sat down with 8 huge hot dogs (no buns or anything with them) and 4 sausage links! Haha and¬†he just started downing them! Plus he had more food. We made fun of him so he started waving hot dogs around saying, “You want sausage? You skinny, eat sausage!” Love my district. We’re all getting pretty close so it’s fun.

Well I’ve gotta hurry and try to send some pictures but I love you all! Mahal kita! Kita Kits! Ingat po! (I love you, see you, & please be careful.)