Oh my goodness, I feel like I've waited 10 years to email you!! This week has gone by so slow it feels like. There is just so much to take in here! As you know, we flew to Portland, then Tokyo, then Manila. My luggage made it everywhere okay, which I was very happy about. That night we stayed in a hotel. Manila was crazy. The buildings are tall and it seemed like a Filipino Las Vegas. The driving here is CRAZY! But they are safe and get where they need to go!
The next morning we woke up to a phone call saying our bus was here to take us to the airport. We frantically got ready and loaded the bus, later to find out they got mixed up with which missionaries were leaving when, so we ended up at the airport 2 hours earlier than we needed. That's okay though...better early than late, right? :) We took a plane to Bacolod where we met President Lopez, his wife, and senior missionary couples outside the airport. I was so excited to see Sister Adams and her husband! We drove to the mission home and I just felt like I was in a dream. Green everywhere, the old houses, people riding carabou on the side of the road, dogs everywhere, tricycads galore, jeepneys...the whole deal! I can't believe I'm actually in the Philippines! We arrived at the mission home and had a interviews, an orientation, and then stayed the night in a hotel. I stayed in a room with 3 of the Filipinos sisters we met up with in Manila. They were so sweet. :) President said this was the only night when we'd get good rest for the next 18 months- 2 years and to take advantage of it, so I sure did! I went to bed at 8am and slept the whole night through.
The next morning we met at the Galo chapel where we studied for a little bit before meeting our trainer! My trainer is Sister Alesha McIver. She is 23 and from New Zealand, but she is Samoan. Her one year mark is actually tomorrow! Crazy! She said it flies by SO fast! Right now I honestly feel like that day will never come, but it's okay! I know it will. She is so very sweet and is trying so hard to remember her first weeks here so she can feel for me. She calls me her daughter and says that in the future, for her kids, she'll do anything for them. And right now, she'll do anything for me because I'm her 'daughter.' She really is so great! I love her already. We took a taxi to Mansilingan, my first area. We went to the market for the first time to get some food. They mainly eat rice with meat, so I'm still adjusting. I jut got some bread, peanut butter, and oatmeal for now. The members are very kind and feed us dinner most nights. It's usually rice and some kind of chicken or fish. It tastes pretty good but I'm still adjusting. I also tried mangos! Oh my...they really are as good as everyone says they are!! :) After the market we traveled to 3 or 5 different mini towns in our area to teach. We took my first tricycad ride and jeepney ride. So fun! The first family I met was the Borda family. Sister Adrian just got bapized so we are following up. We work with those less active. Some get baptizeed, but it'\s hard fro them to come to churvch someitmes. In fact, the majority of those we teach are less actives or recent converts. we really only have 2 or 3 actual investigators. That night we ate with teh stake president. I was beat by the end of the night, but i survived!
Friday we had weekly planning, which takes up a lot of the day, and then taught. WE did the same saturday. the people here are so poor---they live in little bamboo houses and they just live at such a poverty level. It just makes my heart cry! One house we went to we taught our lesson in the candlelight.
Sunday was my first time at church! It's just in a normal church building. They asked me to bear my testimony. eek! I did my best to do it in Hiligaynon. Oh, and It was ward conference so all the stake leaders were there---kind of scary but i did it! we sand in the choir as well and had a funeral afterwards. Sunday was a wonderful day but tough. Wonderful because everything was familiar--the hymns, sacrament, feeling of being at church, but at the same time it made it tough because i got homesick.
there are dogs EVERYWHERE!!
I've already seen huge spiders, cockroaches in my house, caribou.
the kids here are ADORABLE!! Especially when they speak the langauge. AH! so cute.
fans are the biggest blessing EVER!! I've never felt so sticky in all my life. I feel like i'm camping 24/7, but hey, i'll get used to it eventually right?
everywhere i go people say, "guapa!" which means beatiful. white is pretty here, so that's why. haha
Well, I hope everyone has a good week! Pray that I can adjust to the culture, climate, food, and schedule of missionary life. It's definitely the hardest thing i've ever done, but I know the Lord with help me. Thank you for all your prayers and love. I love you all so very much!!
"Look, this is really a caribou that is 2 feet from me!"
Jessica's companion, Sister McIver, from New Zealand
A sweet sister who will soon be serving a mission, Sister McIver and Sister Dixon
Walking to a town to teach and testify
Jessica's study area
Home Sweet Home
Not sure how all this works, but it looks like she does have running water---somewhat!
Standing outside her apartment door
With President and Sister Lopez at the mission home--first day there.