Hello! How are all of you? I love you so much! It has been a great week. Every day I am able to love the work more and more. I am certainly having an adventure here, that is for sure.
A little more about life in the Philippines: There are lots of tiny lizards that crawl on the walls everywhere. One of my first days there was one hanging out next to me on the window screen. In our compound yard thing there is a stray kitten that likes to hang around. It is cute. It curls up next to me when I do laundry, and it hops up in between the window screen and bars and meows because it wants to come into our house. haha. Also (for Rachel), there are a lot of goats. I always think of how she likes goats whenever I see one. haha. Last Thursday/Friday, I had my first official brownout--no power and no water for like 15 hours. We had to manually pump water from a well to use to clean our apartment. So that was fun. Also, Electric fans are basically one of the greatest inventions in history. ;) We shop at a store called Gaisano, kind of like Smith's Marketplace. The people really don't feed us that much, which is good...then I don't have to worry about how safe their food is. I have been eating a lot of apples, oranges and PB & J (seriously! awesome, right?!) I think I am still full from all of the food in the MTC. haha
The work is going well. The Branch President and Branch Council are making efforts to get more involved in missionary work and it is wonderful! We had a training with them yesterday and the STLs (Sister Butler and Sister McClellan) gave a great lesson on reactivation, retention, and converstion. The Branch Council made goals and committed to do their part to help the Oton Branch become strong. We have been teaching a recent convert named Rhyza, (9 years old). It is so fun to teach her and her siblings. Her parents are not active, but she and her older two siblings are. We hope their whole family will become active. We had FHE with them and their neighbors last week and it was great. We made sure the whole family was there and at the end we knelt together and the dad prayed. Ah! It was wonderful. One of the kids, Jarins, is 7 and he is like a Filipino version of Blake. So cute!
So, there is an investigator named Mylene whose sister, Jemma, is a member but has become less active over the last few years I think. Anyway, so Jemma has had a few nervous breakdowns in the last couple of months and now she is in the hospital. We asked the family if they would be interested in getting a priesthood blessing for Jemma. Long story short, We visited the hospital with President Catalan (Branch Pres) on Saturday to talk to Jemma. He wanted to see how she was doing and she if she wanted a priesthood blessing. It was definitely an interesting experience. The hospital was a pretty poor public hospital. After we walked out of the Psychiatric Unit, the Branch President noted how there was a marked difference between the feeling in that room and outside of it. It just felt evil or something in there, I guess. I don't know how else to explain it. I wasn't worried because I knew we had the protection of the Lord, but it was definitely weird. We just keep hoping Jemma can recover and return to her normal self.
My companion is a really good cook. She has made adobo a few times so far, and it is always tasty. (Basically whatever meat and whatever veggies you want all stewed together with some soy sauce. Yum!) I love her! Her sister got married last week, so that has been hard for her, but she is so strong. And so patient with me and my language learning. Grabe! I don't think I mentioned, she is a native Filipina, but she was an English major in college so there hasn't been a language barrier there. And actually the people do speak quite a bit of English, so it is usually an Ilonggish mixture.
I love you all so much. I have to go, so sorry I cannot send individual emails this week. I got the sister missionary mall package, Mom. Thank you so much. I am glad you all had a fun 4th of July. My comp. and I sang the Star Spangled Banner to celebrate. ;) Have a wonderful week. Make sure you do the things we are constantly committing people to do--pray, read your scriptures, and go to church! I love you all :) Halong!
Love, Sister Winward