Sunday, June 23, 2013


Hey family! I love you!
So I arrived safe and alive in the Philippines Iloilo Mission on Wed 19 June 2013 at about 10:30 am. It has been the craziest few days of my life. Truly, that is the only way to describe it. Crazy...
I am doing well. I think I am adjusting well to the time difference, I only felt a little jetlagged the first day or two. The humidity is a little different to get used to, I am just glad it is the rainy season so it is not unbearably hot. Travel was good, a little wild, but this wonderful Filipinia woman named Victoria was seriously an angel. We sat next to her on the plane from LA to Manila, and she made sure we got through customs and to our next gate. 

 My companion is Sister Mendez. she is from a town on Luzon island (the big northern one, where Manila is). So she is a Filipina, she only knew Tagalog before, but she is already good at the language even though she just finished her training--so she has only been here for 3 months. I am assigned to Oton (area A), just near Iloilo City.
I live in a balay (house) with another companionship of American Sisters. We travel by jeepney (like one of those ugly cube cars but longer with 2 bench seats on the inside), tricycle (motorcycle with a sidecar), and sikad (bmx type bicycle with a sidecar) those (I'll send pictures next week maybe). They are quite the wild ride. On our way to church yesterday we had 8 adults and 7 children on 1 tricycle. They later that day I think I counted 10 adults on a tricycle. It is madness. And there aren't really traffic rules, just stay on the right side of the road, but even that is ignored if they want to pass. It is really funny to be white here because people stare at me as I ride past...I just smile and wave at them.
It is really noisy here...all the time. Roosters crow all the time (I think I found out where they got the sounds for Angry Birds from), dogs bark all the time, old men sing kareoke all the time, jeepneys blast music, the rain is loud, the wind is loud, etc. It's just a noisy place. But it's all good, I kind of just tune a lot of it out. It is a noisy, dirty city. Everything smells weird too. Fish, jeepney pollution, cigarettes, chickens, other mysterious smells. Including myself--Thank you humidity. To get to the jeepney stop from our balay, we walk past a market where they sell fish. Truly delightful smells right there, haha. It is definitely Asia. haha
The work is good. Every one is soooo poor. For real. My area is mostly made up of slums/squatter areas. Look that up too--Oton squatter areas. They have nothing. Their homes are bamboo and tin and concrete and other random stuff like street signs and junk all made into a makeshift house. The rooms are separated by a bookshelf or curtains. They are so poor, yet most of them have a TV. haha. One neighborhood is right on the beach, I don't know how those houses are even still standing, the wind blows very hard off of the ocean. The people are tiny, many are malnourished. I have seen elderly men who look like pictures from the Holocaust. They have nothing. But they are very happy people. They are very receptive to our message, but it is hard to tell if they really want to listen and become converted or if they are too kind to say they don't care. The church is very young here. But people know who the Mormons are and recognize our badges. Our branch is tiny and there aren't very many priesthood holders. Less than 10 probably.
I am reminded many times a day how blessed I am to have all I have--to have been born in the church and have a strong testimony and a strong ward and pioneer ancestors. I have a nice, huge home. Clean water, lots of food. Traffic laws. The FDA. haha. I am very grateful.
I don't know that I love it here yet, I am still adjusting, but I love the people we are teaching. I know I'll come to love it. It is certainly a fun adventure. I love the kids. They are adorable. I went through a pack of Juicy Fruit Gum yesterday (thanks to Matt & Britnee and family--Thanks for the package!) Also thanks mom and Grandma for the packages. Thanks everyone for all the letters so far, it might take a while, but I will try to write all of you back.

I love you all and I am so grateful for you. Please write letters and emails and DEARELDERS!! I love to hear from you!
Love, Cassie

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