Magandang umaga/hapon!!! (Good morning/evening!!!)
To answer some questions:
The people here are rich and poor, but mostly and average of lower middle class. There are small houses and there are big houses. But the people here are SOOO humble!! It's amazing the difference in attitude and receptiveness from the province to the city. We can talk to just about anyone here and they're so nice, they will almost always either let us in or will give us their information for missionaries to go to them.
Yes, they still call out because I am tall and white, but it's not quite as much in the city. They stare a lot, especially because there are two white ones now, and yes, they are very shocked when I start speaking Tagalog to them. But sometimes it comes in handy. Just earlier we were doing our shopping, and these two workers started talking to me as soon as they found out I could speak Tagalog. I ended up getting their phone numbers and information, and they said we could come share a message with them. Awesome!!
I had heard that the Tagalog here in Mindoro was very deep, so I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to understand a lot. But I've been very surprised to find out that I understand almost everything, and they understand me! Heavenly Father is really blessing me with the gift of tongues. Sometimes it is hard in our apartment because Sister Soliven doesn't speak much English and Sister Milsom doesn't speak much Tagalog, so sometimes I am having to translate and be the middle person. But I'm trying to help Sister Milsom with her Tagalog and Sister Soliven has been practicing her English, so we're still functioning, and people can mostly understand one another. It makes things interesting. :) Sister Milsom is also a very strong personality and likes to talk and be heard. Sister Soliven is a quiet, reserved sister who loves to listen and have silence. She's having a bit of a hard time having patience with Sister Milsom. I am praying for them and for guidance, and I know we are together this transfer for a reason. I'm so excited to see what Heavenly Father has in mind for us and what He wants to teach us!
Mom, you asked if there are any deaf? Actually, I met one sister who is Deaf. She studied sign language, so she knows it, but no one else in her family does. They treat her almost as if she's just there and has no purpose. I really feel for her. She always has a huge grin on her face when we come over, and we'll chat a little bit. But then she is told to go take the kids outside and distract them so the others can focus on the lesson. I'm not sure where the balance is. The first time we went there I tried to interpret, but then I would lose the interest of the less-active and couldn't focus on her. And when I would speak, I found it extremely difficult to sign at the same time because the grammar's so different. I'm praying to know what to do.
Wow. Time is flying and there is SO much work to do. We are covering two areas here, and there are so many people to go find and teach!! We are having a hard time finding enough time to get to everyone, and we've actually gone on splits a couple of times to make up some time. We are very blessed here. There are several of the branch missionaries that are very willing and eager to work with us when they can. They know the areas and know where the investigators live, so I could ask them to show me where someone lived if I didn't remember how to get there. They are awesome.
We are experiencing miracles here in Mindoro. Krisitine Joy, one of our less-active members is starting to have a change of heart. She was baptized several years ago and then fell away. We've gone to her place several times to teach her, and she's receptive, but very closed in. She's only 18 years old and I love her so much!! We felt prompted to teach her about missionary work and suggested that she pray about the decision. The spirit was strong. We shared personal experiences and she still seemed so closed in. One of her best friends is one of the branch missionaries that works with us, so we invited Kristine and her active friend, Remy to work with us missionaries on Sunday. She actually came to church and then she quickly left before we could catch her. We ended up going to her house to pick her up, and she eventually came out in jeans and said she'd work. Time was limited, but she was able to work with us for two appointments. I loved watching her testimony grow as we shared. The first appointment, she just listened and didn't want to say anything. But that was okay. At our second appointment, we read 1 Nephi 9, and focused on the last two verses. The spirit was strong, and Kristine bore her testimony!! On the way back, we were all laughing and having fun, but she was quiet. After a bit she said she just wanted to say thank you to us sisters. She said she really didn't want to work with us earlier. But we were persistent. She said as we shared at the different houses, she started to feel a change in herself and a desire to change her life. She wants to come back to church. She has the desire now!! It's so amazing what missionary work does and what this gospel does!! She is still in my prayers every night along with many of our investigators/ less actives, and I know she will turn her life around, and she will be able to experience that peace and joy that comes from the gospel again. We see so many miracles every day!! That's just one example of a million!
I know this gospel is true. I know that this is the Lord's work, and when we put our trust in Him, miracles happen. We can accomplish anything with His help. The branch here is very weak and unorganized, but with the help of the Lord, it will eventually become stronger and become a ward. I am praying for that day! I love the people here and I love my companions. I love this gospel and how beautifully simple it is. I am constantly being reminded that I am not a perfect teacher, but I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost who guides and teaches. We're just the instruments. The real teacher is the Holy Ghost. He testifies of the truthfulness of our message. He has testified to me, and I know it's true.
I love you all! I love the scriptures. The Book of Mormon is TRUE. It really does change lives. Keep being amazing and trust that Heavenly Father will help you! Miracles happen!