AHHHH HELLO MY WONDERFUL FAMILY!!!
Wonderful news!! I made it to Cebu, safe & sound & are you ready to hear how I am doing, how I am adjusting to the culture, the people, everything??? Well....good news! I am ABSOLUTELY LOVING IT HERE!! I love the Philippines, I love my companion, I love the investigators, I love my area, and I am just loving my life right now! Although I feel like I am never comming back to America, that's ok for right now. :) It is hard, and I am not excusing the fact that it's the hardest thing I have ever done, but it's actually been a great adjustment.
This email will be long, because there is so much to tell you. I will start from the beginning. The last week in the MTC, we were able to watch conference, and I didn't fall asleep once, so that is a good thing. I loved singing with every missionary at the MTC "Called to Serve" It was incredible and I had a smile on my face the entire time. It was a great end to my MTC experience. On Sunday, we had a final devotional and the group, Vocal Point came and sang to us. They are awesome, look them up. I also saw Andrew Decker, and yes, I told him I was ready to get out of the MTC and that the food sucked. :) He only has a district with Elders, NO SISTERS, lucky guy! On Sunday, I also received a blessing from Elder Pettibone, because I was starting to feel sooo nervous, like how I felt right before I entered the MTC. It helped me a lot and I am grateful to him.
On Monday, I was able to talk to you guys from the airport and it was so great to hear your voices!! It made me so excited to get to the Philippines, knowing my family was doing great. On the plane ride from San Fran to Manila, I got sooo sick!! Poor Elder Buckley was sitting next to me, and I really feel badly that he had that seat, and seeing and hearing me sooo sick. He even gave me his barf bag to use. That Elder is so nice and I know he will do awesome things in his area. He is a saint, and mom, you can tell Becky that I told you to tell her how nice he was to me. I felt so badly for him, sitting my sickey me. I am sooo glad I don't have to make that flight for another 16 months, it seriously almost killed me. Sitting in front of me was a woman from Luzon, in the Northern Philippines, and she was so funny! She kept wanting to take pictures with me, and I was sick, but she showed me about 600 selfies she took of herself, good times. That plane ride was horrendous!!
We skipped Tuesday all together, and arrived in Cebu around 7:30 am where Pres. and Sister Schmutz greeted us. I love them already, they are like my bonus parents while I am here in Cebu. We had a full day of training and also did a session in the Cebu Temple. I am sooo glad it was in English. :) I was exhausted, and we slept that night at a nearby hotel. I experiences my first bug in the Philippines when a huge cockroach was climbing on my arm, but guess what!!?? I didn't cry, or freak out. Welcome to the Philippines!!
The next day we woke, up and had a good breakfast at the hotel, with some Britney Spears playing in the background. It's funny because the Filipino's LOVE Britney Spears, I hear it at least a few times everyday. After the breakfast, we went to a Cebu chapel for our transfer meeting, and to meet our new trainers. THANK YOU on behalf of all your prayers for my trainer. I LOVE her!! Guess what!!?? Her name is Sister Tueller, yes, she is related to Ben & Elaine Tueller. She is from Hawaii, and is 19 years old and she just finished her own training. She is so patient and good for me. We are assigned the Sibonga B area which is in the CarCar zone. It's a brand new area, and they have never had sister missionaries there before. Sibonga is a tiny little town, and very rural. There are no stores here, or banks, or really anything. If we need anything like food, or money, we have to go to CarCar which is about 20 miles away.
Our proselyting areas are quite poor. I am not sure what I was expecting, but I was a bit shocked by the poverty here. Seeing how these people actually live has been quite humbling to say the least. I will take some pics next week and show you the area and what it looks like. Our apartment is quite the story. We live in the Relief Society Presidents house. When she heard they were looking for an apartment for the sister missionaries, she volunteered to move out of her house and moved herself and her grandchildren into a tindahan (store off the side of the road) so we could live in her home. Can you believe that?? She is so wonderful and amazing and I love her.
This is a new house in the area so our branch of about 30 members came over and cleaned this house like crazy. They are so excited to have sister missionaries in their area. They are so good to us. We arrived to our apartment on Thursday and realized we didn't have mattresses, stove, fans, nothing. Luckily our amazing zone leaders were with us, and went shopping and got the items we needed.
Fun Facts: Elder Glines is one of my zone leaders and he is kinda famous. You wouldn't recognize his name but you would remember his youtube video!! Look up "Mormon on drugs, getting his wisdom teeth out" You will remember him fondly. :) He is the one who is talking about BYU, Diet Coke, and even swears a little! Go watch it and laugh, yep, he is my zone leader. :)
Another fun fact: I see Elder Mchaffey a lot!! I told him we would always read his blog, and follow his missionary experiences. He thought that was so cool! I also met an Elder Mingus. He has a blog too, so MOM....he said to follow his blog as well. Funny Elders. They are awesome!
We know have everything in our house, except for a fridge...we are waiting on that, but we have everything else. Miracles!!
Saturday and Sunday we had General Conference, and yes, I was able to watch it again!! On Monday, I taught the sweetest family, the Cudera's. They like most people who live in Sibonga, live in very, very humble circumstances. We sat outside in their kitchen on some planks of wood and taught them a lesson, and ate some fish with them. As I was getting up to leave, I completely fell flat on my face!! I don't know what happend, but they all thought I hurt or broke my ankle. I am fine, just a bruised ego. :)
Monday, we had an English investigator appointment!! Her name is Dativa and she is our neighbor. I love the English appts because I can actually understand what is going on. She is catholic and I am not sure how much she wants to learn, but she is so funny. She says that "Jesus is the king of her heart", but prays to Mary....hmmm not sure about that one. So, we have a lot to teach her, and see where she would like to go with this.
On Tuesday, we had interviews with Pres. Schmutz. I cried a little bit while talking with him, and I asked him for a blessing. It was so revelatory. He promised me that during this time in my life is when I am going to see a lot of things that I was promised in the pre-earth life that are comming to pass. It was like a patriarchal blessing. He is so wonderful, and I love him. He told me how I promised Heavenly Father that I would serve a mission. Even though I can barely speak Cebuano, I know with time and His help, that I will be able to do it.
After zone interviews, we traveled back to Sibonga and met with the Cudera family again. Guess what!!?? Sister Cudera knows how hard it is for me to speak Cebuano, so she asked me to bear my testimony in English. I was a bit concerned, because I know how to bear my testimony in Cebuano, but I listened to her and knew that she doesn't understand English, and afterwards, she had tears in her eyes, and told he she actually understood what I said!! Another miracle!!
Last night, we taught two investigators, Mary Grace & Mary Jane. They are both golden investigators. They are so ready to be baptized. They have been taught by the Elders since the beginning of September. I committed both of them to baptism!! in Cebuano!!! and they said YES! They need to get permission because they are both 16, but I am confident they will both be baptized.
RANDOM THINGS: The kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE stickers! Use them everyday, and they go crazy with them. Thanks so much for all the stickers.
FOODS I HAVE EATEN- Fish, a ton of fish! I have eaten three fish right off the bone! I have also eaten a fish head! They eat all of these things with their hands, and I am learning.
I have many mosquito bites, but I am applying A TON of repellant, but they are sure itchy!!
MOM, I need the forget me not necklace from Allie Sue. I don't know why I sent it home from the MTC, but I need it. I don't want her to think that I don't love it, because I do. I want to wear it here and tell others about my darling sister. If you could send it, that would be great, just whenever is fine. Thanks for all the emails, and I love you all. I pray many times a day for you all. I pray that you will have the desires of your heart. You are so awesome. Sorry, this email is kina all over the place, but it's a start as my first one from Cebu. Love you more than you know,
Sister Joslyn Harris :) I will send some pics next week, I don't know how to do that yet.