Monday, August 19, 2013

First Week sa Pilipinas!‏

District D before heading to the Pines! (Only picture I got!) :(

Kamusta po kayo everyone? So I made it to the Philippines. Like I am actually there. It's kinda crazy! Also, I flew on an airplane!!! I loved it! The 10 hour flight was killer though. The second I stepped off the plane I realized they don't have dry air here. It is non-existent. It's so.... sticky here. Like all the time. I'm actually grateful that our showers have only cold water! And yes, we have an actual shower. And a flushing toilet. But no toilet paper. 

We got to Manila around 11pm Tuesday night so we stayed in a hotel in Manila. And guess what. THEY HAD A PET MONKEY!!! Life made. They also had foot-long cockroaches. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration. More like big toe sized. Then we rode a bus to the mission home and stayed their for orientation for a couple of days. Thursday we met our trainers and headed off into the world! 

My trainer is Sister Calla. She is 23, 4'11", native Filipina, and so, so sweet!  She also speaks pretty good English so that's good. We are re-opening Canlubang area 1 which means no investigators, no area book, nothing. So we get to start from scratch. Not sure if that's a good thing or not. We're in the city and share a pretty nice apartment (I'll send pics if I have time) with 2 other sisters, Sis. Smart and Sis. Banzali. Sis. Smart is American, 19, and has only been here 6 weeks so it's really nice to talk to her because she totally knows how I feel. 

For the past few days we've mostly just gone out with them to meet members and get oriented with the area. It's pretty big. We have 5 or 6 barangays, which are like gated communities/neighborhoods. It's been really cool to see them teach a couple of times so I can see what it's like. 

So I thought they prepared me in the MTC... yeah, not so much. I don't know Tagalog, but luckily a lot of people speak pretty good English. Tagalog has no rules. Sister Calla keeps telling me words don't follow the rules because it's "mas maganda" to hear. You know what's mas maganda? English. Joke lang... kinda. No everyone here keeps telling me my Tagalog is pretty good for how long I've been here and I'm sure I'll get it. People think it's so cool to hear the white girl speak Tagalog. I can't wait until I actually can so they can be really amazed haha :) 

So what are the Philippines like? It is always noisy, kinda dirty, and absolutely beautiful here! And wet. There are dogs and cats EVERYWHERE.

There are also chickens running around all the time. It's really green and pretty. Random Filipino facts, the lanes in the roads are more like guidelines that everyone ignores. It's terrifying but everyone is a really good driver here. Everyone sells things from their front yards. Whatever they have. Ice, some kind of food, motorcycle fixing services, clothes. They love Spam. It's like a delicacy here. They all want to be white. They even have skin-whitening soap! And finally they are the nicest people you will ever meet! The members have all been so welcoming and keep assuring me I'll get the language and get used to everything. The children are absolutely adorable! I really do love it here!

Not gonna lie though, it's a roller coaster and I miss home some days. I woke up the other day feeling like there was no way I could do this. I couldn't be this hot, this sweaty, this tired all day everyday for 18 months. My family was so far away and I couldn't talk to anyone here. But future missionaries, don't ever let days like that stop you. Roller coasters always have an upswing. It rained for the first time that day and that was such a tender mercy. I read some letters I brought with me from the MTC and it totally helped me out. So even though it's far away and it might take awhile, write me letters. They really help on homesick days. 

So with mail, DearElders are free through pouch mail. I'll get them whenever I go to the mission home which is once a month usually. Or you can send pouch mail (google it) or regular snail mail. I know a lot of you have emailed me and I love getting your emails but  I don't always have time to respond to all of them, so be patient. My new address is:

Sister Shalee Brown
San Pablo Philippines Mission
Brgy, San Juan
Alaminos, Laguna 4001

Future Missionary Advice:
  • Buy a tracker phone with so many minutes to use to call your parents at the airport. It's a lot more reliable and convenient than using a phone card and pay phone.
  • Bring snacks for the mission, not just the MTC. You will miss your fave American foods.
Well, I miss and love you all! Until next week and the adventure continues!
Mahal kita!

XOXO, Sister Brown

P.S.  Everyone thinks it's hilarious that my name is Sis Brown but I'm white. I've heard it every single time I've introduced myself haha :) My companion introduces me and uses the joke to get people's attention and start talking to them about the gospel haha :) Also everyone keeps asking about my leg and I've assigned Sis Banzali to explain because I have NO clue how to do it in Tagalog. 

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