Honestly, not much happened this week because we had meetings, meetings, meetings...and General Conference. I know I'm a week late here in the Philippines but didn't you all just LOVE General Conference?! It seriously changed my life. I especially loved Elder Holland's talk on Saturday afternoon...most of the foreign missionaries were in tears during his talk. It's not something I would've understood before my mission but isn't it so true what he said..."Aren't we all beggars?"
I just want you all to know how much my life has changed serving and loving these Filipino people for the past year (yes, I've been in Cebu just over a year now). I have never seen people with so little have so much happiness and understand their purpose as much as the Filipino people do.
Think about the lives you all are living right now. I can guarantee that none of you in America went without food or water or a shower/bath today. I know it's getting into the colder months there, and so I'm sure you probably have the heater kicked on and are up-to-date with what's going on in the world because of your iPads, phones, TV's, etc.
This random house (picture at the end of the email) is actually kind of nice but is a great depiction for the lives of the Filipinos. You might ask, "Where is the bathroom?" "Where is the laundry room?" Do you see all the buckets outside of the house? What they do here is if they don't have water they just leave buckets outside of the house to collect water to bathe and wash clothes...I hope you'll never take your heated showers and washing machines for granted again.
We were visiting with a less active member who is in her 80's (I've never sent a picture of her home) and she has cataract problems in her eyes so she is going blind. Her daughter died and left her to take care of 2 babies that are no older than age 4. She lives close to Amada...which is like an hour away from the church and of course she has no food or money to go to church. She's actually gone over a week now with no food. I'm thankful we visited her because her home teachers and the ward were immediately able to help her out. We taught her about faith and hope and I've never been so sure of a promised blessing that I've given before...I told her that if she won't miss a Sunday at church that she'll never go without rice. She seemed pretty sure that she'd be there on Sunday. I can't even believe her faith!
It's hard for the Filipino people to live the gospel because they have so little but yet the church continues to grow and prosper here. In America you are blessed with so much...you guys really don't even know. People always ask me if I'm excited to go home because I won't have to take a bucket shower again and I can use a microwave...but I'm not. I've learned those things truly don't matter, and they shouldn't put a label on our happiness if we have material things or if we don't have material things.
You would probably laugh at the things I miss about home and the things I remember about home...it's not the material things. I remember how Dad would sing "Swing low sweet chariot" really loud and out of tune, I remember mom honking the horn 7 times whenever she was coming home from work, I remember picking up Allie from school on Wednesdays and going to the temple for baptisms every Thursday. I remember reading the scriptures every night as a family. Those are the things I remember and miss and cherish. Nothing material. I could live without so much that kept me living and breathing before the mission.
This email is really different than what I had planned to send but I hope you all thank Heavenly Father for the blessings He has given you and seek to reach out and share your blessings with those in need. This scripture truly encompasses the Filipino people and the lessons I have leaned (and continue to learn) from them. I will never be able to thank Heavenly Father enough for sending me here to learn from them.
Love, Sister Joslyn Harris
Cute chick pretty in Pink
me & Elsie
Amada and friends
House in my email
Amada loves Christ