How is my wonderful family??
Thank you for all your emails! I love you all and am so grateful for all your love and support. Mom, thank you for keeping me updated with all the things around there! I loved hearing all your voices last week. You are all amazing!
Wow, SO much has happened since we last talked and since I wrote last. Transfer day is tomorrow...but I got a surprising call last Friday morning at about 7:30am from the APs (assistants to the mission president). I had no idea what the call was for, but Sister Paloma picked up and they asked to talk to me. They asked me about the area and about my companion (the normal conversational starters) and then told me they had some news for me. I would be transferring! I wasn't really that surprised, but I was pretty curious as to why they called me to let me know so early. Usually we find out if we are transferring on the Tuesday before transfer day (Wednesday). Then they said... I would be transferring to.... MINDORO!!! That's the little island that almost all the missionaries beg to go to sometime in their mission because it's so beautiful. Then they said that I needed to pack my bags and say goodbye to our investigators because the APs would pick me up that night at 8pm and I would sleep at the mission home. My flight was for the next day at 6:05am, so I'd be leaving the mission home around 3:30am to drive to the airport. Grabi! So fast! I was in shock for a bit. I laughed, cried, and so did my companion and kabahay (the other sisters that live in our apartment with us). They are super sweet. I love them all. We had a change of plans for the day and went around to say goodbye to some investigators and less active members. It was really hard to say goodbye. I pray that they will stay strong and will continue to grow closer to their Savior and follow His teachings. The Escueta family was probably the hardest one to say goodbye to. We had actually planned to just drop by and say goodbye, but Sister Marilyn Escueta (the mom) asked us to share a message before we left. I was so touched. They are so amazing. We shared a short message with them and then had to say goodbye. I tried really hard not to cry, but...well... you know me. :) It was even harder to see them cry, especially Sister Escueta. I pray for them that they will continue to progress and that their whole family will eventually be baptized. They deserve the happiness and peace that this gospel brings. I also pray for the new missionary that will be transferred there, that they will love each of the families as much as I did and do all they can to help them. I have full confidence in Sister Paloma that she will continue. She's amazing.
It felt really weird being without a companion when I was picked up Friday night by the APs from our apartment. I was told that I would only be able to bring one suitcase to Mindoro and it had to be 20 kilos or lighter (about 40lbs). I eventually had to buy a large "no weight" bag, and take my black duffle as the carry on. My missionary waist/shoulder bag was my "purse," so I packed it with books until it was about busting at the seams. :) But I eventually got everything I needed under the right weight limit and Sister DeLaMare showed me to the room where I'd be sleeping. It was HUGE!! I had a huge queen-sized bed with a comforter and tons of pillows all to myself and a walk-in closet and bathroom. There was even air conditioning. I didn't really know what to do with myself. I almost felt like I was afraid to touch anything because it was all so clean and beautiful. It's amazing how my perspective has changed since I've been here. I ended up turning the air con down because I was cold even though I was under the sheet and big comforter. I have a feeling I am going to freeze when it's time to go home. haha.
The Office elders picked me up at 3:30am and drove me to the airport. They gave me the flight plans and dropped me off at the airport. I didn't really know where to go or what to do and neither did they, so I said a quiet prayer and walked inside the big building. I asked a couple people and was pointed in the right direction. I got everything checked in and sat down to wait for my flight. I got to study and write in my journal while I was waiting, so the wait was worth it. The flight was quick (about 30 mins) and I was greeted by the Zone leaders of the Mindoro District just outside of the airport, along with my new companion, Sister Suliven, and Elder and Sister Heywood, a senior missionary couple. We drove to a small bakery and bought some breakfast, then they drove me to our apartment! Driving out of the airport parking lot, we got to see a glimpse of the ocean! Beautiful! Elder Heywood told me to take a good, long look because I wouldn't be seeing it in a long while. It wasn't in our area. We get the rice fields. :) Oh, shucks.
Our apartment is small, but clean looking downstairs. We actually have tile floors downstairs. Upstairs is just cement flooring, and there are three bedrooms, but we just use one of them as our closet and changing room. Our beds and study desks are downstairs because it's so hot upstairs. Mindoro is known for it's brown-outs. So we have a lot of them. There are times when our electricity just goes out so we have no electric fan, lights, or electricity for our refrigerator, so it makes things interesting. It's an adventure!! I love it. We also don't have a sink, but we have a spicket(sp?) in a small enclosed area outside, and a few large basins for washing our dishes and washing our hands. Or we can use the spicket in the bathroom that we use to fill up our bucket for showers. It's so simple, I love these new experiences every transfer. We have to buy our water because the water is not filtered here or safe to drink. But the water that we buy tastes good and fresh, so we are blessed. :)
We actually got permission to go running at about 5:30am to meet some of the other elders in our zone at the beach! It felt so good to jog. It's actually my first time since I left the MTC to actually jog outside, not just in place or up and down the stairs. The air here is so clean! It's completely different from the city where there is always traffic noise and polluted air. It is gorgeous here. The beach still had quite a bit of garbage on it, but it is so much cleaner than the city. I definitely miss the people in the city, but I love the area here in the province. There are no jeepneys here, just tricycles, so we trike a lot.
We had zone interviews here this last Saturday, the day I arrived, so President and Sister DeLaMare flew out and we had a great few meetings and I got to have another interview with President! I love the interviews with him. He is definitely called of God. I guess I was eager to have another interview for selfish reasons. Whenever President interviews, he always asks if we would like a blessing at the end. I always take advantage of that when I can. The Priesthood authority is so powerful and real. In my interview with him, he told me he had some news for me. He told me that we would be getting one more sister in our companionship next week Friday, and we would also be taking over one of the elders areas. That means whitewashing!! Whitewashing is when an Elders area becomes a sisters area or visa versa. We will be covering two areas-- our own and the area of the elders that will be leaving Mindoro. Next transfer we will be four sisters again, but this transfer we will have us three. Wow. So the last couple of days the elders have been showing us around their area and introducing us to the investigators and less actives. It is going to be a lot of work, but it's what Heavenly Father wants us to do, so we'll do it. I'm a bit overwhelmed with having to learn two new areas, but I was blessed to be able to not be overwhelmed and learn at the pace I need to. Sister Suliven is awesome, too. She has been really patient and is drawing me maps and is always quizzing me as to where the places and people are.
Then I got a call from the APs yesterday saying they had some news for me. They asked if I knew about the third sister that would be coming in, and I told them that President had told me. Then they said... "You will be training again Sister Harston!" That third missionary will be a brand-new missionary! I'm super excited, but a bit nervous. I'm praying for her! I am still learning the area and the people, and how to be a good missionary. Sometimes I don't understand why Heavenly Father has so much trust in me. He's helped me in the past, so I'm going to put my trust in Him and he'll help me again. I just have to remember to breath, smile, and pray. :) I am so grateful for my companion Sister Suliven. She is super sweet and super strong. She just finished her training, but she seems much more mature than a new missionary. I love her to death, and I'm having fun getting to know her better.
I just found out two of the other missionaries that were in my MTC zone are training, too!! Sister Elsmore and Elder Vandyke. I'm way excited for them. They are amazing missionaries. I have such a good relationship with all my MTC zone missionaries. It's always like a family reunion when we see each other at Transfer meetings and temple days and such. :)
I'm sorry I wrote a book, but a lot has happened!! I know this gospel is true, and I love meeting people and seeing and hearing about the changes that the gospel has brought to their lives. I love you all!!