Hey sorry this is so late. I went to Utah for a couple of days and didn’t get Jaycee’s most recent email posted. So here it is.
Alright! So the Philippines…. what a crazy, wonderful place haha. I am finally over the culture shock (except when I wake up in the mornings cuz sometimes I wake up and almost forget that I’m here haha) and I am actually starting to really love the totally completely different culture. I’ll talk about more culture stuff later though if I get time.
So this week really was great. Since I’m in training for 12 weeks, we have an extra hour of companionship study so we have less work time but we still have been plenty busy teaching appointments. Missionary work is WORK and if you do it right, it is hard work. But wow it is rewarding. I have always loved church, but I love it even more as a missionary because I get to see investigators or less active members follow through with their commitments to go to church. But of course it is very to see some not follow through. But we’ll keep working hard so we can get more and more to church! We had 4 investigators go to church and 17 less active/recent converts. Our goal was 8 for investigators so we definitely need to work on that, and 15 for LARC so that was good! A big focus for the whole mission is on the less active members. But we do need to have it balanced and focus on our investigators. Some of the biggest issues we’ve already faced with investigators is the family members. Especially here in the Philippines, it is extremely important to have family approval. We have 3 sister investigators ages 20, 26 and 33 who all have some sort of concern regarding what a family member thinks about them getting baptized. Many have the view that if you’re born catholic you die catholic. So we have been trying to build their faith and get them to take that step so hopefully we’ll make progress this week!
My Tagalog… well in the MTC I just felt like I could learn everything so fast and here…. haha I just know I have so much to learn that sometimes it is overwhelming. But I really have seen progress in just one week and the key is to pray sincerely for the gift of tongues every morning and throughout the day. My understanding during lessons has gotten better and hopefully my grammar and vocab has increased and gotten better. I am always trying to work on it and so whenever my kasama and I are walking somewhere, I usually practice teaching her. It takes forever to say just one sentence because I try to have perfect grammar when I’m teaching her, but it really has been helping, I think ;). What a crazy language though. Oh and Bicol is a dialect to Tagalog so it is very similar but the main difference is just different words. The grammar is pretty much the same but the words are completely different. Many times our investigators talk in Bicagalog and I can hardly understand any of that. We’ll see how that goes.
So on a spiritual note: I am SO grateful for Eternal Families. That knowledge is so key to the gospel. Eternal salvation is the greatest gift from God D&C 6:13. But as a family it is like a million times better. I also have really come to appreciate this time I have to do my best to bring God’s children back home. The parable of the lost sheep and D&C 18 really stuck out to me this week. How great is this work and how great will be our joy if we bring just one soul back home. Luckily since I have felt more adjusted this last week, I have been able to really start pushing myself which I hope I’ll be able to do my whole mission. I am so determined to serve with all my heart so that I will have no regrets when I’m done.
Alright so the culture… I know I already said a lot last week but here’s some more things I noticed that will hopefully help you get to know the Filipino culture more. Food: First of all, everyone eats with a spoon and fork. Spoon in right hand and you use it for cutting, the fork is more of just a help for getting the food on the spoon. It is actually way easier to eat rice with a spoon so we’ll see how I eat when I get back haha. Now rice, obviously they eat a lot of rice. But they eat so much rice that one of their delicacies that I tried a couple days ago are these coconut rice cookie things called palitaw. Pretty good I guess but I just thought that was funny. I tried root crap ice cream and pudding this week which is purple. Still not sure what root crap is but that’s what they tell me when I ask about it haha. I also tried avocado ice cream which is also good and thank goodness they have ice cream because I have definitely missed my dairy products. I ate a fish head, the whole thing. It wasn’t too bad except for being extremely salty. I ate a banana-que, barbequed banana. I finally have had the famous adobe which is probably one of the most popular dishes here. I actually haven’t tried too much because we don’t get fed that often. Most meals my kasama and I just make which has actually been a struggle. The best grocery store here would be a very terrible Safeway or City Market in America. I was lucky to find mustard though so I think we’ll be having hot dogs a lot ;). We eat mostly rice and eggs and whatever we can find to go with rice. We do have a fridge but no oven or microwave so mom if you can think of any great recipes with just using a stove and most just fresh veggies and seasonings that’d be great! They do have powdered milk that works for cooking so there’s that too. Oh but no cheese which kills me haha.
So I don’t think I talked about this last week, but being an American, I definitely stick out. Even though I still have dark hair, it is still much lighter than Filipinos. And obviously my skin and face is a give away. So I am used to it now, but pretty much everywhere we go I get yelled at haha. And especially here in Naga, there are people everywhere. Even though it feels like a million degrees outside, people are always everywhere outside. So anyways here’s a list of names I’ve been called: sisters (of course the most common), sis, elders, Amerikana or kana for short, Joe, Barbie, megandang maputi (which means beautiful white), I love you (yes in English) and very common among the kids, “Hey! What’s your name?” I started messing with the kids and now I answer “dalawang pung taon ako” which means I’m 20 years old haha, that confuses them.
Filipino humor is such a funny thing. It’s funny because well, it just really isn’t that funny. They think the littlest things are just so funny. Most people say “Taylor Swift!” when I introduce myself and they think that’s pretty funny. I’ll try to give examples of some of their jokes in later emails.
Time here is so weird. We hardly ever make appointments! Most people just say come by whenever and so that’s what we do. It is hit and miss with some people, but with our faithful investigators we are able to teach them without an appointment. And if you say lunch at 12, that usually means lunch at 1 (like today with our ward mission leader haha). The church clock even runs 5 minutes slow and we always get done like 15 minutes late. Surprisingly though, most people are on time for sacrament meeting (well according to the church clock.)
Driving is nuts here. The roads are used mostly for jeepney’s tricycles, taxes and huge buses. Most 2 lane roads are used as 4 lane roads with the shoulder. Except the outside shoulder is more of a pedestrian/bike/passing/drop off/pick up lane. So just anything goes on the shoulder.
Along the streets, there are fruit stands and little food stands everywhere. The smells are sooo different and I have never smelled anything like the food and just everything here haha. The election is coming up so the whole town is decorated with TONS of posters. Except when someone posts a posted of one of the candidates, they post at least 20 all together, just so they make sure you know who it is haha.
Oh karaoke is SOOO big here haha. We probably see a karaoke party going on everyday.
Dad: thank you for my great umbrella! I use it everyday! No it hasn’t rained everyday cuz it is still summer (although rainy season should be soon!!) but I use an umbrella for the sun and most people do when it is really sunny.
Well I think that is it for this week. Count your blessing because we all have been blessed with so much, especially for the gospel. I love this gospel and I love my Heavenly Father. I am so thankful I have this opportunity to serve even it is hard work. Good luck everyone with the hard things your facing but always rely on the Lord.
Sister Jaycee Taylor