I can't believe it's already pday again, and I'm in my 4th week of the transfer! Time warps when you're on a mission.
This week has been just another regular week in the Philippines....I'm getting used to it here. Things that seemed so crazy and weird at first are starting to seem normal. Men peeing on the side of road? Normal......Videoko/kareoke to Shania Twain and Justin Bieber till 4 in the morning? Normal...People standing over my shoulder as I type to you? Normal! This week was Halloween although not celebrated in the Philippines. Instead they have "all souls day" & "all saints day" where everyone goes to the cemetary,d and nobody is home, so we don't have a lot of appts. Someone asked me if I was phil-am (half Filipino)....I must be getting tan! Also, is it really November?? I am used to seeing the leaves fall, and snow starting to fall. Can't believe it's Thanksgiving this month! We are all going to be together for Thanksgiving and a district activity. Super fun!!
Everyone here loves the Utah Jazz! Kinda funny, since the Jazz aren't even really that good are they!?
I am learning to love animals here. Teaching people in the humble circumstances that I teach people in, you get a different experience. When it rains and you are teaching someone with a tin roof, you literally have to SHOUT the lesson to them it is so loud. Animals will just walk in. I have had dogs, cats, chickens, and other animals just walk in during a lesson. Sister Tueller and I have been working on giving practical service to people, because they really open up that way. We folded laundry last week, but this week we got to wipe leaves with rags, and attempt to make woven baskets! It was super fun. I have a new favorite food here...bananaque. Look it up on google, and then think of me.
Now for the good stuff, I am still a grump in the mornings here and I am really working on it. I am most grumpy when we have to do lava (laundry) because I just REALLY MISS washing and drying machines. It takes forever and I don't like it!! However, I have adapted a new attitude of "I love everything Philippines!" So that when I have to do lava, or anything else I don't particularly enjoy, like not being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet, I just love everything here and that has helped me be more positive.
I am having a hard time getting you my pics, but I will work on it. I never thought my life would be this crazy. We are literally hiking through the jungle everyday, and if we aren't in the jungle we are on the beach teaching people. It's so beautiful here! I am in awe of something new everyday. Just as amazing as the scenery, are the people. I love them so much! They love us too! I have never met such a collective group of people with such a capacity to LOVE. They are just so loving and accepting of everyone. EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE! They love us and they want to protect us. They don't judge, they don't care how much money you have, or how you dress, they just love you no matter what.
Last night, we had a FHE at the branch pres home. We had SPRITE! and KFC pineapple chicken!! I was in heaven, especially since the week before I had that lovely pork fat!! I even had jello salad for dessert! I was in heaven!!
Now about Church in the Philippines:
Appreciate church in America, because here agendas don't exist, and a lot of other things don't exist. Our branch is a bit interesting. We only have 5 semi active Priesthood holders. Our branch should be a group, but you can't go back down to group. We on average have about 25-40 people in attendance at our little house we hold church at. Nobody is on time. Our attendance on Sunday was four people when church should have started (9 am) and by noon we had 41 people! The people SING and I mean they SING LOUD! Like at the top of their lungs!! I try so hard not to get the giggles, but it is beyond loud. They also sing along very loudly if someone is doing a special number. They just join in and sing along. It really frusturates me that church doesn't start on time. Even the Bishop isn't on time and he leaves right after church, pretty much the first one outta there. Our first counselor in the branch presidency decided he doesn't like to attend church at a house, so he goes to CarCar (20 min away) but he doesn't want to change his records, because he doesn't want a calling. He is still the first counselor here, but he doesn't come. He is at the other church bldg. Our Elder Quorum Pres is like 65 years old, and he was offended, so he announced he was done attending church. Our branch pres will speak with him and hopefully they can fix what is bothering him. There is no primary or YW. We have Relief Society in the garage of this house. It's quite different to say the least. Through it all, I have had to learn patience with these people. They are doing the best they can, and I can't compare it to church in America at all, or I will just get more frusturated. Grandpa would go crazy with so little organization! :) I am trying my best to be patient.
Yesterday was the MIRACLE day. It was amazing and so neat how all day, we were exactly where we needed to be. Even though we had two dropped appts, the Lord still somehow kept us so busy, teaching all day. Ther men here are not as strong as the women. The men are quite lazy and and most that I have met drink and smoke all day long. A lot of people in our ward are women and children with really no support from their husbands.
Just a heads up, but there is a big typhoon warning for Leyte, (Tacloban mission) and the top of Cebu Island. We are prepared though, so don't worry. I don't think it will even hit us.
In conclusion some answers to mom's questions:
Sibonga is right on the coast and our home is 1km from the beach. It's a fishing beach so no tourists. The beach is so pretty but the Philippines in general from what I have seen is pretty dirty. It gets so muddy when it rains and people just throw their garbage everywhere.
I am literally in one of the most rural areas for sisters. I teach people who literally have nothing, but as one lady told me, "I am poor, but happy." These people live in huts and eat off leaves. They are so poor but sooo kind. The kids play in the streets with old, worn out, dirty pieces of flip flops. But...they are happy. I give a lot of stickers out to the kids. They don't know what to do with them, and I show them how to put them on their foreheads, cheeks, fingers, hands, etc. They LOVE the stickers, and I living giving them to all the cute kids.
A lot of men and teens smoke. It's gross and smelly, but I am getting used to it. Cigarettes here cost about one peso, so super cheap, and super accessible. It's sad.
Christine - she read the book of hymns, but still not the Book of Mormon. Not sure if she just wants two American friends, or really is interested in the church. We are meeting with her again tomorrow.
Andrea - A 70 year old woman who during the first lesson asked to be baptized. We are working with her.
Alima - less active who lives in the most humble home I have ever seen. A piece of wood doubles as a couch, bed and kitchen table. Her husband is always fishing. They live literally day to day on what he makes each day from fishing, so that is why he is never home. She is sooo sweet and pinches my cheeks and loves my dimples. I love her so very much!!
Mary Grace - Committed to baptism, but is only 14 years old, and her father won't let her be baptized. But, she did come to church, oh how I love her!!
Esteliosso - She is the one who has 9 children but five have died before the age of three due to sickness. She came to church!! She is soo weak from having a miscarriage but is soo strong too! Her son was very sick, so we sang to him, and prayed with her and him. I love her!!
I LOVE you all!! Thanks for everything, your prayers, your support ,and most of all your love! Make this week count, and stay close to the Lord. I love you all sooo much!!
Sister Joslyn Harris
**The first pic is of the typical home we teach in**
The Second Pic is me and Sister Tueller with some ward members***