Hello my fantabulous, wonderful, lovely, amazing family and friends! :)
Thank you for all your emails, letter and support!! You all mean so much to me!! Last week they announced new rules for the mission, and we are being allowed additional time for emailing, and we are now allowed to email family, friends, fellow missionaries, and anyone else as long as they are not within our mission boundaries (except for former investigators--that's an ok now, too!) So I can receive and respond to email and written snail mail.
To answer some questions....
I don't know the exact ratio of dollars to pesos, but it's about 41 pesos to every dollar I think. It depends on the brands, but things are usually a lot cheaper here, especially food. To give you an idea, when we go grocery shopping each week, I often buy cereal and or oatmeal, juice, milk, snacks, bread, and sometimes a few fruits (much cheaper in the fruit stands outside), and sometimes a few laundry items or things like that. I can usually buy that all for about 500 to 800 pesos. It seems like a lot at the time, but when you convert it to US dollars, it's super cheap.
People still are required to have licenses here in order to drive. :) I'm not sure the age though. Usually people learn to drive at an older age from what it seems like. I'd like to see the driving handbook, too. Not very many people have licenses here though. Only the families that are well off have a car, and then usually only the husband drives. There are a few women that drive, too, but from what I've observed, it's more common for the men.
Jerry, I'd love to come over there and help ya out with the weeding and harvesting, but...well... maybe next year or the year after that. ;)
We are still a threesome, covering two areas, so we are still trying to juggle that. We go on splits with members as often as we can to cover more ground at once, so that helps. That happens usually about once or twice a week. Next transfer we should get another sister, but we don't know. Only God knows. President DeLaMare will receive revelation for the next transfer. Many things could happen. Two of us will stay for sure so we can lead the two areas. All of us could stay and just get one new sister, or one of us could be transferred and get two new sisters. The new sister(s) to the area could be sisters that are already in the field, they could be sisters who are in the middle of their 12 week training program, or they could be sisters who are completely new to the field. We'll see!! I'm excited to see what happens. But I'm not excited to maybe split from my companions! Even though it is often very difficult being a threesome, I have grown to love these sisters so much!! They are amazing. Our whole zone is amazing. It's very different this transfer than it was last transfer. Last transfer we had a very crazy group of missionaries, with it being the last area in their missions for many of them. I had a difficult time relating to them sometimes. But this transfer it's a totally new group. Most of our zone is training, so it's a completely different feel. The sisters are so sweet and the elders are super nice. There is a great spirit about the zone.
We made a difficult decision this past week. Because we are covering two different areas this transfer, we are juggling the days and which area we will work in. The area where I was originally assigned in New Manila and Galas, we have very few investigators. We are mostly teaching less-active members, but they aren't progressing. We feel that most of the people think of the missionaries as just friends, and like having them over, but don't take the gospel seriously. We teach them, but they are not willing to commit to anything. I have come to love them each very much, but we made the difficult decision to not go to them for a while--give them some time and then we can go back to them when they are ready. But in the meantime, there are people out there who are ready to accept the gospel! We need to use our time more efficiently and teach to those who are ready. So we're basically starting fresh. That means...TRACKTING!! I hadn't been trackting before, so that was a new experience. You really feel like a missionary, ringing doorbells and talking to the people at their gates. (We went trackting in the more wealthier parts of the city this time.) We met some nice people, had some doors shut, and many people saying they were busy. No one actually let us in, but we talked to a few people on the streets and got 3 people that said we could come back! It's definitely a learning experience, and I feel sad for the people who don't take the time to listen, especially when they won't even open the gate. We talked to a lot of peepholes. Even though we were tired at the end of the day, we felt energized and felt good about the work and about the people we had talked to. There is a time for everyone!! Heavenly Father loves each one of us.
We went on splits yesterday and attempted to contact some referrals from the previous day of trackting and a referral from the mission office. Sister Abonitalla and Sister Paloma worked in Cubao and Kamuning with a sister from the ward, and I worked in New Manila and Galas with three other members. We had a lot working with us yesterday! I love their enthusiasm and willingness to work with us. Unfortunately most of our appointments fell through or the people weren't there when we got there. I decided we would go try to find the house of the office referral. We pulled out the map and started walking! After asking a few people, we eventually found out our map was wrong, but we found the place with the help of some people along the street. Kelly. (our referral), is renting a room in a hotel, so we called her room from the front desk. As I spoke on the phone, I barely even noticed that she was speaking English. I responded to her questions in Tagalog, and she eventually said she'd come downstairs to meet us. She and her brother, Kevin met us downstairs and they only speak English!! Surprise! They are here from the US to study nursing and have about 2 years left to study before they return back. We were able to get to chat with them to get to know them and their expectations for us and we shared a small message with them. Kelly was especially receptive. Her brother was pretty quiet, but he was receptive as well. The spirit was super strong, and we shared experiences and testified.
We had our stake conference and had a special Area Broadcast this past week. The spirit is so strong!
Anyways, time is up. I wrote you a book, but there is so much going on here every day! I love this mission, and I love this gospel. I love the joy and peace it brings. Always look to Him!
I love you all and pray for you often,