Well I am finally here! Finally at a computer! Finally finally! Haha I have so much to say. Here comes the list. Let's hope I can remember everything!
1. Flying here
2. First thoughts of the Philippines
3. Getting to Baguio
4. We are Baguio Missionaaaaries
5. Transfer Meeting
6. Day 1
7. Day 2
8. Day 3
Okay so I can't go into as much detail as I would like and there is definitely no time for error correction so I apologize in advance, I already know there will be mistakes. So on the morning of I forget which day, the Sisters (Bangerter, Tapusoa, Anien, Lowham) and I were to be at the travel office at 3:30 am giving us about 1-2 hours of sleep after we finished packing and cleaning up the room and stuff. So we got on the shuttle and headed to the airport. We got safely on our flight after Sister Bangerter and I split a much needed pork salad from the airport cafe rio lol. It was a 4 hour flight from SLC to Detroit. Then a 12 hour flight from Detroit to Nagoya. Then a 3 hour flight from Nagoya to the Pines. A grand total of about 20 hours! Luckily I slept for probably 18 of those 20 hours haha. The Lord was really helping me out with that. I did not hide my talent for sleeping and He blessed me for it haha. Is that sac religious? Sorry. Anyway, then we landed!
We were in the Philippines! Our feet were like elephants thanks to sitting for sooo long. But it's alright! Because we had made it! As soon as we got off the plane Sister Lowham turned to me and said "It's soo humid." I agreed but it felt good to me! And then after we got our luggage and got outside, that's when the real humidity hit us. I just turned to Sister Lowham and laughed. This was the actual humidity of the Philippines. And we were all taking a while to adjust to it. I asked Elder Jarvis how he was doing and all he could say was "I be sweatin'. Nokay lang." Hahaha to say "it's okay" in tagalog, you say "okay lang" So he decided to switch that to nokay lang. But besides the humidity, my other thoughts were quite scattered. Outside of the airport, where you get picked up at the curb, there were cars EVERYWHERE. And although there were only 3 lanes, there were 5-6 cars beside each other honking and trying to get through. An Elder next to me had about 5 heart attacks in the 20 minutes that we waited there. But we didn't have to wait for long before a shuttle came for us. But we had one shuttle for about 15 Sisters. I have a picture of that but I'm not sending any pics this week :/ I have too much to say and not enough time. Hopefully I will have less to say next week and will have time for pictures!
So the shuttle got us and we crammed in there to get to our hotel. It was about 10:30 pm when we landed in Manila but as we got to the airport hotel there were still tons of people out and about. Eating, partying, just doing whatever. We went into the hotel lobby. Walang (none) aircondition of course. And we just wanted to get to our rooms and sleep. But somehow our shuttle with all of our luggage got way off course within the 5 minute drive from the airport to the airport hotel. So we ended up not getting to our room until about 2 in the morning. But seeing the mattresses on the ground made us so happy we wanted to cry haha. The idea of getting sleep while in a laying down position was so amazing. So we got right to bed and woke up at 4 to get to the shuttles that would take us to our missions by 4:45 ish. Although we were excited to get to Baguio, it was sad because that morning we had to say goodbye to Sister Anien who was going to Olon Gapo. We were almost angry that the MTC would put us together and then make us say goodbye. But it had to be done. And I know she is going to be a kick butt missionary out in Olon Gapo. So our shuttle left by about 5:30 and we were ready to get to Baguio! But first we stopped at the Manila MTC to pick up the missionaries from there that were also going to Baguio. I saw Jaron Chong there! I thought he was gone already but he was there! It was so nice to see him! The Manila MTC is right by the temple too so we got to see the steeple haha. I have a picture of that too. We were at the Manila MTC for way long though. We were back on the road at like 8 ish. It was supposed to be about a 7 hour bus ride to Baguio. We were to take stops every couple of hours to use the bathroom and eat and what not. The bus ride was actually really fun! We got to know a lot of the Manila MTC missionaries who were mostly natives. They were all sooo nice! They knew most of our names by the end of the bus ride! They are so accepting of everyone and yeah. Could not think any better of them. Awesome people. Then after about 3 hours, our bus broke down! We were broken down for about 3 more hours. Then got back on the road and 4 hours after that made it to the Baguio mission office! We were dead from all the travelling but still had interviews with President Balledos who is such an awesome and sweet man, and activities to get to know each other and stuff.
But we got to sleep eventually. We sisters stayed in the Sister training leaders house which was nice and big. I fell asleep in my church clothes and everything. But then I woke up at like 5:30 and decided to shower. I had no idea that it was a bucket shower! I was sitting in the bathroom for a good 5 minutes just staring at the bucket in the corner. Trying to decipher what to do exactly. Was the water clean? Do I just dump it on me? Or do I dunk myself into it? All of the sisters were still asleep and I didn't stay awake to hear how anyone showered the night before. But I finally got the courage up and dunked my hands in the bucket and got to business. Greatest thing ever! I ended up feeling so much more clean that I would in a normal shower! It was like washing dishes except I was the dish! Great stuff. Ahh I'm running out of time! I need to hurry. Okay then the next day we had our first proselyting activity, and amazing race activity (which my team won of course!) and we went to the mission home for the first time! It was beautiful right on the beach! I will send a pic of that too next week. Then we had an orientation and a budong fight! Where you eat with your hands! Sooo masarap! And then we went to bed. I found out when I got home that night that the bucket shower was unnecessary. The shower worked just fine. I don't know what I was thinking haha.
The next morning was transfer meeting. Tears. Maraming (many) tears. I had to say goodbye to my best friends of the last month and a half. I am now in the San Juan area of the San Fernando zone. My ward is San Juan 2 which my companion and I share with another set of Sisters. I met my new companion! Sister Tanner from Kaysville Utah! She is really sweet. After the meeting we ate some lunch and then got right to work! I met Brother Noto, a recent convert. Brother Manuel an investigator. Brother Johnny a recent convert. Bishop Javier. And Brother Lorenzo a creepy old man who I am pretty sure just converted because he loves missionaries. He isn't even in our area but he insists that we visit him because he loves Sister Tanner and he gives us Chubbys (chocolate candy) so we go to him when we are hungry. I will go more into detail about them next time! But the first three brothers that I talked about are sooooo soooo amazing. They all inspire me so much. By the end of that night I was so tired I was almost crying. Sister Tanner was sensitive and knew that she was that tired on her first night so she let me go to bed early.
The next morning came way too soon. I woke up and forgot that I was in the Philippines. We did our first 4 hours of studies and had a delicious lunch. And after that we would normally go out proselyting or to a lesson. But Sisters Gaddy and Gerhards, the other sisters who are in San Juan ward 2 and who live with us had a baptism! So we went to that and had a service project after. Then we went out proselyting for a long time because apparently all of our lessons for that day were out of town. Then we had FHE, once again for investigators in Sister Gaddy and Gerhard's area but we decided to join because they end up being in the same ward as us. It was at a house where the wife is a member and the husband is investigating. At the FHE he accepted a baptismal date! We were all really excited because he had gone through 5 sets of missionaries before Sister Gaddy and Sister Gerhards started teaching him. We went home that night and I was really struggling. I felt pretty sad. When we are in lessons, teaching people, I am fine. Super happy actually. But then we get out in the streets and I start thinking about home and I get pretty down.
Sunday was even more difficult. Our ward struggles with activity so in the primary room there is a little girl probably about 6 years old setting up the chairs. We missionaries set up the rest of the rooms. In relief society there were 5 sisters besides the missionaries. Gospel principles was good. Pretty full actually. About 10 people in there. And then about 30-35 in sacrament. I don't understand much still but I want to contribute. They had me bare my testimony in sacrament which was a surprise because Sister Tanner said I wouldn't be doing that for another couple of weeks. But it went fine. And that was probably my favorite part of the day. The rest was a real struggle. I wanted to just be able to speak Tagalog perfectly already. I wanted to understand the culture. When someone looks at me a certain way I want to know if it is a good thing or a bad thing. I want to know if what I am inclined to do would be okay or if it would be impolite. There are so many things different about this place and I am taking some time to adjust. I got to plug in one of my cds yesterday and cottonwood lane came on. I heard Jacob's little 14 year old voice singing the line that he sang in the musical fireside and had a breakdown. I miss you all a ton. I miss the comfort of living that I used to have. I come outside and see someone ride by on their bike and realize that this is the home of so many people. And I feel better for a second. And then I get sad again. Some good advice I got today was not to compare here to home. So I am going to work on that. I am also focusing on patience with the language and getting accustomed here. And faith that with the Lord, I can do this. Scirptures that have really helped me have been 2 Nephi 4. Pretty much the whole chapter but especially the end. And D&C 121: 7 and 122: 7&8.
I know that this is where I am supposed to be. But that doesn't make this work any easier. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I miss so many things. But I know that it is going to get better. When I wish I were back home, I know that I am not showing the faith that the Lord needs me to show. This experience is going to make me so much stronger. Please pray for me. I pray for you all. I love you all. And I will talk to you next week.
Love, Sister Sawada