Week One - Not in Manila!
10:15 PM (19 hours ago)
You will be getting mail from my mission president in about three weeks with a letter that talks about how I got to Manila. I wrote it when I got to the mission home. It's not anything too great besides talking about how long I was on an airplane for....
BUT. Now to the good stuff. So I got to the mission home late at night on Tuesday (I think... those days are a blur to me now...) Five other Manila sisters and I slept there. The mission home is SO NICE. A/C and real hot showers and maids and it's beautiful and clean. But I am no longer there. Let me tell you about where I am. Long story.
So on Wednesday, all of our trainers and everyone came to the mission home for the meeting and so we could get our assignments. I met with President Stucki and he explained to me about the mission boundaries (because they're changing in July because of the Cavite Mission announcement which is half of the Manila mission). He pointed out the island to me on the left hand side (which I had heard rumors about at the MTC - apparently it's paradise, a real tourist destination.) "This is Palawan", he says. "If you get sent there, that means I have a lot of faith in you. There are only six sisters there now." So then to the meeting. Everyone is getting their trainers and their areas and I am confused because there aren't any trainers left by the time he gets to me... "Sister Mecham's trainer couldn't be here," he says, "Because she's still on Palawan." Uhhh.... Yep. Want to take a guess where I am right now????? WELCOME TO PALAWAN SISTER MECHAM. But listen, after the meeting, we're all taking pictures and chatting and I'm thinking I probably won't go to the island until tomorrow because I have to catch a plane to get there. Then one of the APs finds me and says, "Sister Mecham, do you have your bag ready?" "uhhhhh" "Oh, no one told you? You can only take 40 lbs in your bag to Palawan." So I'm thinking, yeah that's fine. That's just ten lbs less from each bag. But, he says, "No, ONE 40 lb. bag. No carry-on." My carry-on was easily 30 lbs. So, 130 lbs got condensed to 40 lbs in.... wait for it... 15 MINUTES. Because our plane was leaving in less than two hours. So, needless to say I had no idea what was actually in my bag by the time I got to Palawan. So many things got left behind. And I definitely forgot my scriptures and debit card at the mission home... so my trainer, Sister Hunt, has been paying for everything until the ZLs can get it to me. We only get mail here once a month - when the ZLs pick it up from the mission home at their meeting. Also, the office missionaries wanted me to tell you to make sure to send packages in the flat rate boxes and use USPS - that's the best way to get there here apparently. And fib a little on how much the things are worth... coming from a missionary... pasensiya.
So, THE CHILDREN HERE ARE SO CUTE. Seriously, I want to adopt every Pilipino child. All they say to me when they see me on the street is, "Amerikano po ba kayo?" "Matangkad." "Up here!" (high five) "Hey Momma!" "I love you."What's your name?" But they just shout the english out to me like they don't know what it means. Like, "What's your name!!!!!!" and then they run away laughing. It's great.
So, we teach SO MANY LESSONS EVERY DAY. More than I could have ever imagined. Part of this might be because we rarely have real appointments with people. We just tao po our investigator's homes unannounced and they let us in to teach them. Okay, the people here speak so quietly. It's so hard for me to even hear what they are saying because I'm so deaf.
So my area is mostly the city of Palawan - Puerta Princessa 1st Branch. But it's so crazy, we'll be eating at a really nice, normal Chow King one minute, then just a tricycle ride away will be the poorest living conditions I have ever seen. One neighborhood is built over the water in the bay. Like, the only thing separating the people from the water is the thinnest layer of bamboo that you can see through. And it's so dirty, the people just throw their garbage and everything into the water. YUM. And there are roosters and pigs and dogs and cats and goats and cockroaches and lizards and rats everywhere. My first day it was so hard to focus in one lesson because there were lizards crawling on the ceiling and rats in the "kitchen" sink. So crazy, so awesome. One time we were teaching a lesson and a cockroach flew full speed in the doorway and smacked on of the kids in the face. But I was the only one who saw it. It was so funny.
So one of our RCs is the Bungard family. They live in really poor conditions - one room hut, no furniture. But they are the happiest people. We taught them about tithing. Tatay doesn't have a job, but yesterday they paid their tithing anyway!!!!! It was so awesome. Ah, I love them. They have the two cutest children. So when we first got to their hut, the children were playing with fireworks, throwing them at each other and on trees and at dogs and at everything. I said, "I'm surprised the house hasn't lit on fire." So we're sitting on the floor teaching them, when all of a sudden we hear tons of screaming and Tatay runs out with a bucket of fire. Yeah, the house was on fire. Don't worry, you don't need to get out of a burning house here. Just wait inside until Tatay puts out the fire.
So, the language is HARD. I can understand everything Sister Hunt (comp) says, but the native speakers are so hard to understand. I've found that there is a direct correlation between how many teeth people have and how well I can understand them.
Okay, so I'm running out of time. But I'm safe and happy and I love it here.
LINDERD - if you're reading this: The shoes you gave me are