Saturday, February 9, 2013

Amy's November 26th letter!

Kamusta kayo pamilya ko at mga kaibigan ko!!!

I am in the Philippines!!! How crazy is that?? I officially missed my birthday! Steph, I'm sad to say it, but you are now one year older than me. ;)  I had about 5-10 minutes or so of my birthday, and then the time zone changed and it was the next day. It's been a fun joke. :)

It was so good to talk you at the airport! Dad, I am so sorry it didn't work out. I think Steph sent you an email telling you what had happened, but I didn't see your other email telling me which number to call until later, so I called your cell a couple times, and it ate up minutes. I wanted to try to call you in Hong Kong, but unfortunately we didn't have any time. We had to go straight away to our next flight.

The flight was long, but I was able to sleep for a lot of it, so it wasn't so bad. I was able to get a lot of journal writing time in, and studying, too. It was weird to be in the plane for about 16 hours without seeing the sun until the very end. When the sun finally caught up to us, the sunrise was gorgeous!  When we arrived, we gathered our things, and found our way outside into the humidity to find our ride. A Filippino brother approached us and let us know he was our ride. He spoke very little English, and we spoke very little Tagalog, but we were able to communicate well enough. :)  I think we were all pretty nervous, but I was stinkin' excited at the same time! We drove to the mission home, and I was soaking up every detail I could. Tyler, you're right. Driving here is crazy! There aren't really any rules or lanes, so people have to be extremely aggressive if they want to get anywhere. Traffic is crazy, and people jay walk all the time. I was pretty shocked at first, but I think I'm used to it now. The roads are very noisy.

After meeting with the mission president and his wife along with all of our trainers, we had a meeting, and we each got to have an interview with President DeLaMare. He is awesome. He is definitely an inspired mission president. I can tell already. I'm excited to continue working with him. I got to meet my companion! Her name is Sister Cope (with an accent over the e), and she is awesome. She is American, and stands about 4' 11" tall. She is a huge sweetheart. I love here already.

It is extremely humid here, but it really hasn't bothered me that much. There are fans in almost every house we go to, so it's not bad at all, plus I barely notice it because it's so beautiful! I am not directly in the middle of the city, but in a province area, so we have some city, but also some areas with rice fields and caribou, etc. There are tons of palm trees, and we get to hike a little bit to get to some of our investigators and less actives houses. I feel like I'm in a picture that I've seen in the MTC!  It almost doesn't seem real sometimes, but it definitely is.

My trainer and I went home that night and we carried my things upstairs to our room. We got cleaned up a little bit and went out to work! We went to two investigator's houses that evening. Sister Cope introduced me, and they started talking. I was actually able to understand a lot more than I expected, so it lifted my spirits. Everyone always comments on my height. I am about a head taller than most of the women, and usually a few inches taller than the men. It's fun. It is really contrasted next to my Filipino-sized companion. :) 

The next day we went out again after personal and companionship study, and went to several houses. I fought discouragement throughout that day, because I found out I didn't know or understand as much Tagalog as I had originally thought. I had to keep reminding myself to have patience with myself and to trust Heavenly Father. It's not all going to come all at once! Siyempre! I have prayed really hard these past few days for patience and for a greater love for the people. Sunday was beautiful. I got to bear my testimony in church, and met a lot of new faces. It was so real and so beautiful to see God's hand in His work. His church is true, no matter where you go! It is the same here in the Philippines, too. My heart was so full! I was overwhelmed with God's love for me and for His children.

Yesterday, we had a district meeting, and we talked about how to improve our teaching, and how to help our investigators feel the Spirit and help bring people to Christ. I took a lot of the things they said to heart, and decided to try it out. We had a full day of teaching and did a little tracking, and I really focused on the people and felt a huge love for them. As I listened to their concerns and their answers to our questions, I was able to understand a lot more than I have been able to in the past, and I felt the Spirit so strongly! I was able to express my thoughts more and do more of the teaching. I still am soooooo weak and new at this, it's crazy. But I KNOW that when we put our trust in my Heavenly Father, he DOES strengthen us. I have witnessed this this week in my experiences, and I know I will experience so much more here on the mission and afterwards.

I love this gospel. I love the Philippines! I love the people here! They are so sweet, so gentle, so humble, and many of them are so ready to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives. I am so excited to continue learning and growing. Our purpose as missionaries is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."  I want to do this! My testimony is being strengthened each and every day. I am determined to do my very best and to do what my Heavenly Father wants me to do. I encourage you to do the same! It is so wonderful! Trust in Him, and he will direct your path.

I love you all!! Thank you for all the emails!

Sister Harston

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