Monday, November 5, 2012 1:55 AM
So much has happened since the time I last wrote you. Where to begin? What to include?
So I'm not sure how much Sister S. told you. My first area is Puerto Princesa... which if you look at the map I left you, is on the island of Palawan! :) The word in the mission is that this is the "celestial kingdom" of the Manila mission. I feel very blessed and lucky to be here. It is a nice place. More about that a little later. (Just to keep you hanging. haha)
Our trip over to Manila was good. We slept for a lot of the flight and I didn't have any jet lag! yay! It is weird being 12 hrs different from you. In fact if I'm right it's 2am on Monday for you? Please don't forget to send me an email with who wins the Presidential election. Thank goodness for modern technology because from what I hear, it will pretty much take forever for mail to get to Palawan. :) Haha. No, but it will take at least a month because we can only send and receive physical mail when the Zone leaders come and go to the mainland once a month. At least that is how I understand it. Crazy huh? So, sorry Madison (and others who have written me), you may have to go awhile without a return letter. :) But don't forget I love you!
So after arriving we got to go to the Mission home which was lovely. President and Sister S. are great! For the day and a half I spent in Manila, I liked it. The parts we were in didn't seem very different from other cities I'd been in. It actually reminded me a lot of Guayquil, Ecuador. Anyway, I got to see Sister L. at the transfer meeting. Yay! I also saw Sister E. from the nursing program who goes home in two months.
After the transfer meeting the new missionaries went to a memorial for those who had died in the Philippines in WWII. Then we went back to the mission home for lunch. The "trainers" or companions were there waiting. However, the companions on Palawan simply meet us in Palawan so they do not have to fly over to the mainland. So the 3 (2 Elders and I) of us just became trios for a little while. Then each of the companionships left to go to their areas. I was amazed how sad it was. I miss my district from the MTC so much. I hope they are all doing well. After they left I was a solo sister for the night.
My feat for the night was fitting all of the necessities into my one big suitcase and making it weigh less than 44lbs (20Kilos). Yea, when he said extra luggage could be a burden at transfers I thought he meant carry wise - not can't take with you wise. haha. Well it was tough but I succeeded, and felt less bad when it was difficult for the Elder going as well. (So it's not just a girls have too much stuff thing haha.) I was grateful for the duffle bag which held all of the books and probably weighed close to 35lbs on its own!
More about the area. My companion is Sister D. (native Filipina). She is wonderful!! So kind and patient and knows English very well so she can help teach me Tagalog. There are only 4 Sisters on the whole island of Palawan. We all live together in a beautiful little house. All of the other sisters are native filipinas. And guess what.... I'm the tallest one in the apartment. In fact I frequently feel tall here and it is a very different feeling. I’m not sure I like it haha! I can't imagine how normal sized Americans feel here. haha! Our apartment kind of reminds me of Nanie’s house. I think it’s just the era that it was decorated. The walls are a bright peachy color and the curtains are lacy. I will send pictures when I can. We have a normal shower that is cold but feels great, and I enjoy it very much every morning. The heat hasn't been so bad and I actually wear my hair half down all day which I was not expecting. Thank goodness it’s the cool season right now.
The grocery stores are different. I look at some of the recipes I brought and wonder if I will be able to make them. Our kitchen has one small fridge and a sink. We have a gas stove in a room out back for cooking. They do have peanut butter though!! YAY!! I was so excited. It is expensive (p200) but totally worth it! It's weird getting used to the new currency. And I still havent figured out how payment for transportation works. haha. We usually ride what they call tricycles. Which are motorbikes attached to metal frames that fit 4 people tightly. :) I like them. When we had a far trip one night we rode a multi-cab (jeepney) since it is cheaper. It has benches along either side that people can sit on and functions like a city bus but without designated stops.
Saturday has been my favorite day so far. We went out visiting new converts and less active members. I can't wait till I understand what people are saying. (Right now I understand almost nothing.) I follow the lesson okay though and I am able to bear testimony or say the pray. While going around we found a couple new investigators, yay! We are currently trying to learn our way around and find out where people live. There is an awesome ward missionary here named G. She comes around with us everywhere. She knows where all the members and inactives live. (Which is no small job since some of their houses are found down hidden cement allies or along a densely populated narrow wooden bridge) She reminds me a lot of Heather L. She leaves for her own mission at the end of this month so we are trying to learn all we can from her before she leaves. I love visiting the people. They are very kind.
Thank goodness for the Spirit. It has been supporting me so much. :) Life is good, especially when we are out visiting people with G. and Sister D. teaching me Tagalog. I think of you all so often and wonder how you are doing. I miss you. Don't forget to send me updates about yourself. I feel like there is so much information in this email and yet is is full of nothing as well. :) Just know that I am doing great. I love the Lord and His children. This is His true church and I'm grateful for this opportunity to serve.
Love Sister Hamm