Tuesday, June 18, 2013

9 Jun 2013 - First email from the Philippines

 Phils.Tacloban Mission
511 Maharlika Hwy.Fatima Vlg.
Tacloban city-6500
That is the address. I was told letters take 2 weeks and packages 2months hahah joy!!
Anyyyyy wayy... are you ready for this?
Hahah ok so ooo The fights were very very very very long and that about sums up that part.
   We arrived in Tacloban oh my goodness .. the coolest thing of my life. We were in a smaller plane and it flew over the islands and when it landed it looked like we were going into the water. The airport is just one strip and we stopped and the airplane turned around and I got out from the back of the plane onto the strip and the airport was this garage looking building. Just this tiny room hahaha and we got out luggage and met President Andaya and the missionary couples and AP's. Umm... then we h.. oh in the airport we saw a huge group of Philippino elders and we were soooo soo happy to see them. We just waved and jumped up and down and smiled... super happy! There are 9 of us Americas and 18 or so Philippino Elders. They are very much.... 18 year old boys but still cute and they have a good spirit about them.
   Any way I need to hurry up or I will never have time to get this all written. We had our interviews and they were all the exact same so nothing cool there. THey fed us and we all waited around in this tiny room. THe american girls -all of us were passed out on the couches and the Philip Elders took pictures of us as we slept.
   Meetings. Meetings. We slept on these pad things on the floor in a room where the sisters stay in that area. More meetings. And then the next day our trainers showed up. We went to this sweet park and took pic and we learned who our trainers were there. OK... my companio.. ok wait. So this is the order they called it in.. Sister Sarah Ralph ( I walk up) You will be serving in Catarman, speaking Waray Wray-S and your companion is Sister Servilla (philippino).
Everyone was like "OHHHHH MANN" and my companion kept moaning and making this "Oh shoot oh crap" comments and I was so confused. I had no idea if she was disgusted with me or what. But turns out my area is just ... psycho. So currently I am 7 hours away from the mission home. It is the farther away. The most northern area. Its known for lots of witchcraft and rude angry philippinos. Its dirty and old, among other things. Regardless, my companion was not happy about it. And all the older missionaries just kept saying "goodluck with that". Oh joy!
   SOoo yes.. I am learning a bran new language (even from what I learned in the MTC) and its hard haha. I have no idea what they are saying. I am really impatient with myself when it comes to languages. My companion and a few elders were put into a van and drove here to Catarman... oh my goodnes can I just tell you.. 7 hours of a tour through the Philippines. It is gorgeous. I swear it looks just like Jurassic park but with out the big dinos. THe only big animals were are water buffalo everywhere. THey are super cute. But no joke... its all jurassic park and the houses are right on the street. I am going to stop trying to explain it because there is way too much. But its incredible how these people live.
    Ok... this part is way more extreme than I was prepared for. EVERYONE STARES! Not just almost everyone. EVERYONE. And they dont stop staring... I walk away and turn and they are all still staring. Its soo awkward.. not awk... just... I dont know what to do. OK I say Maupay na aga. WHich means good morning and smile hahaha. Sometimes they respond but that is rare. They just stare.
    My place.... hahah oh my place. All of you who wanted me to have an extra dose of humility.... lets see ... yes we have rats. Cockroaches. Lots and lots and lots of lizards and all bugs and bajillions of spiders... all in my house. No running water. I clogged the so called toilet the first time I used it. .. it stayed that way for three days. I wash my clothes in buckets and we have a pump out back. Its actually really fun. But the water is very dirty. When I bath with the bucket ..oh my gosh I love love love the cold water but its full of bugs hahaha. Ok.... I know you probably dont believe this but this part is not bad. I sleep on the stinkin floor with no covers or anything and I know there are rats around me as I have seen alot of their remainings and no I dont LIKE or appreicate or want them but its not a big deal. THe lizards freaked me out at first. cause their eyes look like they are going to eat you. But I woke up one morning and was like "hey! where are the lizards?" haha I freakishly missed them... what is wrong with me?
    Spiders dont bug me that much. HUGE Spiders... let me correct myself. There are spiders everywhere, but there are lots of fist size spiders haha and they aren't too bad. I just kill them if they get in my house. There are cats and little stinkin dogs EVERYWHERE!!! literally! its the weirdest thing how many mini dogs there are.
   I think the hardest part temporary wise is just the heat. Its so hot... and I can handle heat.. but being super sticky all the time and never feeling like you can just sit down comfortable and relax with out spiders crawling on you... yea... doesnt happen. You stay sweaty and hot all day and all night. The pictures of my house do not do it justice. Its so bad. The bishop came over for the first time and saw it and hounded the Elders for renting it for the sisters. They were not willing to trade us apartments...its so bad. We took acid to the bathroom multiple times before those pictures. Its just one big hole of bacteria and fungus and all that jazz. But its home right now so we work with it.
    I went to church and I was told that I am in the best ward in the whole Tacloban Mission. Most of the members are RM's and they really support missionary work. We had to get up and bare out testimonies. I did it in Waray!! Hhaha Iw as nervous, but I am glad I didnt chicken out and do it in English. Its hard to learn the language here because everyone wants to speak to me in English. They learn ENglish in the schools and signs and all that are in English so they can sometimes kind of understand. But.. oh the best part... they dont just speak one language. They mix languages. They are normally speaking Togalag and Waray mixed and so learning Waray has been quite the treat. The members and my companion tell me that I am actually really good at the grammar and pronunciation... so hopefully with time I will figure this out.
    I have not eaten anything gross or weird yet. I did have this weird fruit that looked like a orange shaped grapefruit and they dipped it in this weird vinegar. It was not exactly fantastic but the kids enjoyed that I was eating it. OH my goodness! THE KIDS!! The kids are soo so soo so super cute. All of them. It breaks my heart when they come up and ask for food. I dont know how to say no and I just want to squeeze them. It kills me!! But one night we were walking home and a group of like 20 kids ran at me and surrounded me and just loved talking to me. THey would grab my arms and my hair and EVERY one tells me I am tall. But the kids are so fun to talk to. THey just laugh and dance... no shame what so ever. I love the kids to death.
    YEsterday I spent a huge chunk of the day with our WML. LOVE LOVE LOVE HIM! He is a 21 year old RM and he helped me so much with the language. In the Philippines they always say "Its more fun in the Philippines!" and sooo whenever I get confused he told me to just say that.... hahah I said it many many times through out the day and we just laugh and high five all the time. My companion does not know the area so we spent time trying to get to know the ward. THey told me I am the first foreign sister they have ever had.
    I went to a "viewing| last night. They just had a casket with glass to see in this tiny house. He was the father of a boy in the ward who is on his mission now. They embalm a lot differently here and its.... fairly disturbing. But it was good to go meet the people there.
    I got a better feel for what our area is like. We were getting in a pedicab (which is like a tricycle-its the main source of transportation.) we were sitting there waiting for enough people to get in before we left. There were two men outside the pedi who were fighting. Well one was screaming at the other and then left. There were like 6 men around us and three of us women in the pedicab and the guy out side in waray said "RUn RUN RUN!!" to us in the pedi. I did nt know what was going on and I looked at my companion and she said GOOO!!!! SO we jumped out and ran a ways. The guy who was angry had come back with a mashadee (how do you spell that? a big knife.) hahah sorry about that. It was not until AFTER that my companion explained further that this was why she was not excited about the area. People here dont know how to communicate so they just fight hahaha. Sooo... I am stoked!! THis is going to be awesome! I love being out and walking around even though people keep staring at me. Its just soo beautiful.
    For almost two days all I ate was 4 pieces of bread and a half a cup of chocolate milk hahaha SOLID!! Not in Kansas anymore.
   ANy way... my companion is from the Philippines. She is 22 and can be very out going. She does not know waray waray -S either so we will learn together. She hates the sun and so I am coming back white by the way. And I have been a little frustrated cause I dont know what I am doing and we have not done any teaching yet cause we dont know the area and so I just follow her like a puppy rather than having a plan. We have not done any planning. So that part is frustrating. I want so badly to feel like I am fulfilling my purpose and I am not sure. I have had a few moments where I have asked myself why did I choose to come on a mission? Its so much easier at home. None of these people can understand me and I cant understand them... but even in these last few days I have learned so much and I love the knowledge that I have a loving Heavenly Father who is always aware of me and loves me. He loves me!! And I can talk to him at any time. Other people need to know that. They need to know that there is reason to rejoice. They need to know there is happiness available , joy available in this life and in the next because of our Savior. I am so so blessed beyond measure and am so grateful for everything that I do and do not have. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Thank you all for being a part of my life and for being such amazing examples of faith. I love and pray for you!

Love Forever,
Sister Sarah Ralph

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