Monday, August 11, 2008

August 10 Email

Hello Family - So the internet died here at this place and we are waiting for it to start working again. I decided that while I was waiting I would open up this notepad and type your letter so I can paste it later. We are in Lucena because the AP's called us and said they were going to come here for an activity. Lucena is about an hours jeep ride from Lucban but we went...and then they weren't here and we don't know the way to where they went so we're just here in Lucena where it is much hotter than Lucban although not that much further away. My area is one of the coldest places in our mission they say -- that's a blessingsome days :) The week has gone well for the most part. We have a mission tour right now so our six week regular schedule is kind of messed up and we're having zone conference all over again, thus I'll be driving to Lucena again tomorrow night and waking up early Wednesday for Zone conference with Elder Teh of the seventy who is coming to speak to us and our emails from the mission for the last couple of weeks have been wear your best, come and be quiet, don't bring cameras etc." haha...we also just had zone interviews last week so we were in Lucena. Zone interviews were really good for me. Getting to talk to president was a good thing and helped relieve me of some of my concerns. I was definitely not enjoying being accountable for the work we were/weren't doing and it was giving me a kind of anxious attitude. I feel bad for president and Sister Anderson, they have a lot of adjustments to make and I think President is trying to fix everything he doesn't like about how the mission is going with the zeal of someone new but he said himself in my interview that Sister Anderson told him, "you can't just change them, so accept them." How true is that sometimes? As for not mentioning people by name all the time, that probably has in part to do with the lack of names to mention, it's true, but besides that I don't know why I haven't. Kalvin is one of our investigators -- we both discussed the other day the fact that we truly believe he will be a member of the Church one day but we don't know how far in the future that will be. Even Brigham Young took years before he decided he was going to join the church and he became prophet so I have hope and pray for him every day. Kalvin stretches my language abilities. I'm sure I've mentioned this to you somewhere. Maybe in a hand written letter or in an email but I want to explain to him and understand him so much that I have to stretch my vocabulary. Our ward mission leader is Kuya Eddy.... Kuya is a word they use here that means older brother and Ate is for older sister (and the pronunciation is not like the word for eating but a softer A at the beginning like ah-te) but you attach it to peoples names all the time basically so anyway Kuya Eddy Sews for a living and right now they are close to festival in Lucban so he has a lot of work to do. He is our ward mission leader but he's going through a tough time right now. He diligently comes to church still and teaches the new member/investigator class. We went to his sewing shop in the evening after church where he was sewing -- Sister Odo was talking to him in a somewhat joking but serious manner about keeping the Sabbath day holy. He chuckled a bit and seemed exasperated-- he wants time to read more, to do what he should and improve in the gospel but he's overwhelmed and he said to us "this is a blessing from God, I have so much work now I need to do it and make sure these customers come back" he works over time, he sleeps there sometimes instead of at their house and wakes up in the middle of the night to keep sewing -- reminds me of someone else who works overtime and sleeps over :) As Sister Odo was talking with him he finally looked over at me and said "What do you have to say" and all I could think was that sometimes God gives us the desires of our hearts or the things we ask for etc. and blessings and those same blessings become obstacles to our own happiness. It says that in the scriptures, that God will grant unto us what we want if we seek after that rather than what He wants for us and although we will see it as a blessing and a prayer granted at first it will become for us a stumbling block so we must be mindful of that and humble ourselves before we are made to be humble. I was also impressed by the article about Elder Eyring’s life and the strong impression he was given one night after his wife brought up "is this really what you should be doing with your life?" and he was quite happy and successful where he was -- the thought came "never take another job without coming to me first" and he knew there were many jobs in his past that he did not ask theLord about but decided fully on his own wisdom and no council from the Lord. Soon after he was called by people from Salt Lake to take up a job which lead him eventuallyto Rexburg and then to being an apostle -- a life of service and as much as it may have seemed like he was sacrificing he knew he wasn't and this was God's will for him and his life has been greatly blessed. I hope, Dad, that the desires of your heart will be fulfilled, but most that you will know the desires of God because I know they are far greater and you have somany talents and have helped so many people already that there is surely a path meant for you where you can continue to do that. I was also thinking with Brother Eddy about how sometimes we are meant to learn to sacrifice -- if blessings always came immediately would we ever learn the greater joy of sacrifice? I know that as parents you have learned sacrifice, I know that I'm learning more what sacrifice is now and it comes in many forms and it is a great covenant that we made to sacrifice all we have as Christ did, all to the will of the Father so that he might make more of our lives, give us greater joy, expand our vision and build up friends (that last part is a portion of a quote from someone, Benson I think, and thus it has authority more than my own words :) I know this is true. As for the card -- it is a pin problem, but not really. At the MTC the ATM told me my pin was wrong so I called in to the bank and used that same pin and it worked, they told me it was right and thus I still don't know what the problem is because I have no other pin to use and the bank said I'm using the right one but the ATM doesn't care! for the 400 I don't know what they do with that they put it in with all the mission money. I think the money you pay for the entire time will cover my plane tickets and not much more, the Church pays for a lot and thus we are given an allowance in accordance with what they think we can live off of and we can use it for food, electricity, shampoo etc., and transportation and sending letters to family -- if we run out that's our own fault :) haha it works well but if I want to buy souvenirs, clothes, have clothes repaired, print pictures etc. I have to use my own money. Wouldn't McKaylee have been 19? I thought she was two years younger than me? It is interesting how that works, I always wondered what it would have been like to have someone closer and I'm strangely excited to return andhave Savanna by quality of graduation be "closer" because you're basically the same age from 18-28 when in college and there are the 18 year olds that act mature and the 28 year olds that don't and vice versa... then you get married(some do) and that makes you grow up hopefully no matter who you are and thus in college you're all in the same pool :) I have run out of time -- I plan to send at least mom a good reply to her last couple of hand written letters and I promise to get to Savanna and you dad another time if I don't know. You'll be getting a letter from me with only pictures and a page of explanations so don't get too excited and then a good letter will come -- I just need to steal away the time to do it! Thanks for the emails and your testimonies and great examples to me – I love you all Brit

Monday, August 4, 2008

August 3rd

Pala is a word that simply expresses surprise, kind of. There seem to be a lot of words like that in this language. I keep trying to think of words in English that do the same kind of thing, and don't have an exact translation. But, I can't think in English very well right now. Yesterday, Sunday, I went with two of the older sisters in our ward to teach the visiting teaching lesson to some less active sisters. The lesson was about our divine qualities as daughters of God and two of the five we taught to ended up in tears with the rest of us... I really felt the spirit with those sisters and felt like it was easier to teach in Tagalog than it had been all week. My health seems to be mostly better now... it went from being a strange head ache and fever to being a stomach issue with some LBM and now I am off the soda (hoorayfor a good excuse) and only eat very little but more frequently if possible... that seems to help the most. If it doesn't keep getting better I might have to go see a doctor, but hopefully I just got some bug and now I'm getting it out of my system. Thanks for the stories, some of which I remember slightly and others not so much. It's too bad more people can't try to look for the good in people always, if we were all striving to do that more often and not think of ourselves at all the world would be a lot better place, but we all tend to take time to think of ourselves and see bad in others. We all have that bad to notice also... but we all inherently have divine qualities also that are just in an infantile state (as it says in the visiting teaching lesson) so that potential needs time to grow up and we can't be the cause for someone’s lack of growth -- no stunting of spiritual growth :) I want to be very focused on our work, I want to do my very best and find all the people hat need to hear us right now even if right now is not their time to be baptized maybe in ten years it is but they need to hear it from me now... but in my concern for that and my concern for our lack of doing that sometimes I had the thought come to me that my companion needs to be saved just as much. There are enough returned missionaries here in the Philippines that go inactive that I should be very aware of her spirituality and how to love her no matter what -- easier said than done when I already think I've done a good job of not losing my temper like I might have not very many years ago... even when she does. I see in her a lot of things I know I used to do and still fight against (and now I feel like I'm Dad saying, it hurts even more because I see in you what I don't like bout myself). You know, kind of like that. It makes me feel even worse about my short temper, controllingattitude, slow to forgive kind of ways. There is no room for pride even if you are right, even if you have been wronged. There is only enough time and room for being Christ-like. Investing in any other emotion is just a waste of time. Sometimes before I go to bed I try to read Jesus the Christ, it's so good but kind of deep sometimes. I wish I had taken time to try to read it before and study it a little more but maybe I wouldn't have appreciated it quite as much before. I'm reading about an interesting concept. Talmage is talking about the miracles of Christ right now and in relation to science. Sometimes I find myself confused about faith, about priesthood and miracles etc. and I don't worry too much about it realizing my brain just can't grasp it but the one thing that really concernedme was that I have a strong testimony of the fact that God works by natural means. I eventually realized that idea was going against some other aspects like faith that I don't understand. Talmage explains it so simply I feel ridiculous for not having put it together myself that of course Christ turning Water to Wine was still within natural law, but it's a higher natural law than our science understands, than our brains grasp, but it's still natural. He explains a similar thing with the conception of Christ being part of God's higher law -- and necessary of course for him to obtain the characteristics to die from his mortal mother and the characteristics to live from his immortal father. So many more of Mary and Christ's actions from the bible, the small stories we have make sense the way he explains them... about Mary's slow realization and reminders that she was raising the Son of God and Christ's growing line upon line as anyone else and coming to understand his own divine role and what he must do to follow his Father's will... his time in the wilderness alone to prepare for this fully and even his explanationof the temptations Christ overcame and what that all means. Remembering his mortal social life and understanding it better helps to realize the true perfection within him but the choice to be that way and what things are regular aspects of life that we will all, including Christ, experience. I can't really explain that but I feel close all the time to Him, not making less of who He is but it makes Him to be even more to realize how human he was, what he submitted Himself to as the rest of us did and we all must slowly grow in stature and develop understanding of who we are and what mission we need to fulfill... then submit to doing it and do all we must to make sure it happens. Anyway, this keyboard is really terribly difficult to type on I think I will not come back to this store again :) You should try reading Jesus the Christ if you have not and enjoy all the other things you are doing. I will hopefully send a letter tomorrow with pictures that I am printing right now. Not very many and they seem to be all about food here :) But, they are pictures :) In the middle of my sickness last week we were walking home and someone was playing music -- someone is always playing music loudly here, and footloose came on. My reaction was impressively fast, the first couple of chords only had played but I knew what it was and I was crying because I miss you all. But, I don't think about it unless taken off guard :) haha. I hope your play goes well, "sayang, I will miss it!" The word sayang means waste, kind of :) haha it's all a “kind of” when I try to translate. Thanks for everything. Love from me -- oh and here I have no choice if someone wants to walk down the street (meaning one of the women from relief society) and hold my hand the whole time or rub my back as we sit there or play with my hair. That's what happens so I think I will suddenly become a more touchy person when I come home because I just have to be used to it here. Britney

July 21st

Hey Dad...sorry about the lack of information. It's true, last week there was just the one email from you. If you wait until Sunday night you might miss me because it's always different when we check here Monday. Tomorrow is Zone conference so hopefully I will be getting real mail again :) That will make it easier to write back to all of you. I really do apologize my letters this last transfer so far haven't been so fabulous but it's been a kind of hard transfer for me and it's hard to come up with things to write all the time. I guess that's how life goes, up and down and you take it all the best you can even if you're on a down. Being transferred quickly was difficult and not normal but we had some problems that made it necessary, my new companion doesn't know much English and had a bad experience with her other American companions, and this area is also struggling so just some different things have been my "refiners fire" experience lately. Sounds fun to live in and remodel a cabin. I'm kind of confused...what does the missionary do? We report to the high council in our home wards or were you just talking about the talk they'll have you give in sacrament meeting? I finally finished my letter to President Griffin and have the address so I will be sending that as soon as we get back from Zone conference. Where would you keep a horse if you did decide that? Maybe I just don't remember the back yard but it didn't really seem like there was a place for a horse? Just a swamp right? So, I was thinking about what kind of work everyone does in this area. There are three male leaders, bishop, ward mission leader and another who all sew for a living.They make uniforms (everyone who attends school at any level here wears a uniform) or they sew special pants for men...the Elders all love them, they have Filipino style dress pants of every color and pant width. My umbrella (yes that really expensive one) had some issues and died but we took it to this man who sits on the side of the road all day and fixes umbrellas...and in about two minutes he had fixed it for only 5 pesos. A few days later it died again for a different reason and I was rather annoyed, it topped off a really good day :) haha, it got rusted or something I don't know but now it's snapped and I'm just going to buy another one. The thing was, that man makes a living all day fixing umbrellas. Umbrella's are very important to people here, rain and shine because they hate the sun, they don't want to be dark...they really want to be white, they advertise that all their soap and lotions will make you white that will get rid of melanin etc. andthus everyone has an umbrella and there is a man who makes a living fixing them for very cheap. I figured that i wouldn't have even known where to go to get it fixed in America and it would have been expensive so i would have bought a new one straight off! Lots of people have little shops in front of their house where they sell personal single use size of everything...shampoo, toothpaste, detergent etc. and also little bags of crackers and soda, very popular here. There are ladies that sit and make pancakes in the morning and wrap them in banana leaves and sell them for 5 pesos each and others who fry banana's in sugar etc. and sell those on a stick. If you walk by people and they are eating they will announce it to you, "kain na" which means eating now, kind of. Kain is the root for the word pagkain which is food and the root for kumain or kinain etc. which are verb forms, eating, ate, will eat etc. Na means a lot of things and in this case refers to how it's happening now but wasn't before and won't be again once they're done. A greeting for all of them is to ask where you came from or where you are going, they don't always expect an answer or at least not a specific one. I told you that they graduate really early right? High school is over around 15 or 16 years old and many people graduate from college by 19 or earlier if they can afford it. Being able to afford it is very important because they all seem to understand thatgetting an education will be their way to get a job and make money and live a better life than their family did, but it's all a big struggle here -- I don't think I ever appreciated my education like I should have though. Time is nearly up so I'm going to switch over to Mom's email now, love you. Brit