Thank you for all you emails of love and support, they really mean the world to me!! Tell Dan I think of him often and love and miss him too, I always think of what it was like for him since he served in a third world country as well, it made my day that he thought of me! I pray for all of you back home and love you all and think of you often (when I am not working). Anyone can mail letters to the mission home and dear elders get here, two weeks after being sent. By the way, no one can email me except for my immediate. I need to be obedient as possible. And that would be awesome to get in touch with Elder Johnson's mom so I cant get updates on my Elders, I pray for them every night and think of them often. So thank you!!
So let me tell you about my area. I am in the most downtown poverty-stricken area of the city. No mountains, no nature all the other parts of the city have nature and mountains-not us! haha I am serving in Mabolo, Cebu City and it has been a challenge for my companion and me to love the area b/c most other missionaries are serving in beautiful paradises, but we have learned to find joy in everything we do. We laugh at all that happens to us and are learning to love the area, not b/c of the geographical circumstances but the people. I want you to tell you how truly humbled I am by these people, they are the kindness, most generous individuals I have ever met. I already love them with all my heart, my love keeps me going strong. For example a newly baptized family, the Sevilla family, they live in a one bedroom hut by a sewer and have very little. But they find joy in everything about life and love life and their family, they are soo kind and last night they fed us dinner and made us take home the left overs...which really touched me seeing what they had. They told me about all the exotic food i need to try-rats, snake, frog legs, intestines and they said they are going to by me beluit for me to eat ( dont worry Ill take a video for you ;) ) I'm trying it this week!
So far I found over 10 cockroaches, one on my leg in the middle of the night, and they are ginormous-but I dont even care anymore. Our house apparently is one of the worst conditioned houses in the mission so we have been looking with the zone leaders for a new one.
Sis. Carlene is 19 years old and I tell her she looks like Pocahonatas from the Disney movies, too bad she has never seen it. haha. She is committed for baptism on Sept. 11 and she is progressing-pray for her! she went to church this week and the spirit is always very strong in her lesson! Sis. Person gave me a huge compliment the other day, she told me even though I can't speak the language this spirit is soo strong when I testify. I hope these people can see how much I love them and how hard I am working to help them find the happiness I feel everyday from this gospel. Families are a very big deal to them and I always testify to them that even though I am sooo far from home and my family, I have great comfort and happiness that no matter what I will be with my family again forever!!
I LOVE LOVE the food here ( and yet I still have lost 6 pounds...haha) The Bishop fed us fried bananas the other day-soo good! and the Senior couple treated us to Filipino food last P-day. Bread here is amazing and the whole time I'm proselyting I just keep smelling these wonderful smells, b/c everyone cooks on the street.
The dogs here are disgusting!! Always violating each other, hairless and diseased- Seriously I am finding dogs that rival Jack on the ugly scale.
My Cebuano is coming-slowly but coming, still a little frustrating but I know the Lord is making my weaknesses strong! and I'm remaining diligent and obedient.
I have found days where all our appointments have been cancelled, and everyone has turned us away but I remain happy b/c I am doing my best, and if I continue to do my best and reach my goals no matter what and work hard, then there is no room for discouragement. I remember, before I used to think to myself-WHY? why couldn't I serve state side? Why couldn't I serve English speaking? Why couldn't I be serving at least in a beautiful area of Cebu? But now I think I am soo grateful for all of this!! (Not that I want to stay here for my whole time) but b/c of this opportunity to learn this language and be in this area I have never felt closer to my lord and my savior, I turn to him in everything and am learning to trust in him no matter what! Its amazing what I have learned and the spirit that I can feel, I cannot thank my Heavenly Father enough.
We have had investigators in tears b/c of the spirit in our lessons, there have been whole families becoming reactivated that haven't been to church in 6 months and I am excited!! Even though, actually our success is pretty low, this area, an area with very low success is strengthening and becoming stronger, I feel it everyday b/c God loves his children here.
Next week is a new training program for the missionaries so a new sister will be staying with me, meaning Sis. Tatipu (my hilarious Tongan roommate from the older Cebuano district in the MTC) will be staying with me and she gets to be my companion for four days while Sis. Person is in training! I am soo excited it will be fun, even though we both don't know the language.
I just wanted to let you know that, this mission, has been the most amazing experience and gift in my life. There have been times where every part of me wants to quit, and go home. I have felt more pain that I ever have in my homesickness and my desire to go home...but I would not give it up for anything b/c I look back at who I use to be, the faith I use to have and I feel like it is nothing. I remember there were days where I would briefly read a chapter of the Book of Mormon and say a quick prayer, just to say I did. I would never do that again, I would never abuse these wonderful and amazing gifts God gives to us b/c they are the power and we can receive God's actual words through our faith in prayer and scripture study. I am soo thankful for my trials and every hardship I have experienced even for having to wash my clothes by hand, and endure exhaustion and ridiculous heat temperatures (more than I have ever experienced!) I'm even thankful for the cockroaches...haha!
Well I love you and tell Grammy thank you for her wonderful email, I have definitely found everything she said to be true. Don't worry about me, I am happy and I laugh everyday and have found joy in the work!
Naghigugma ko kanamo!!
P.S. I sent home a CD of pictures, so hopefully you get them! Most you have seen, but still fun di ba?