Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Jessica's Twelfth Email! December 29th, 2013

Hello family!!! Oh my gosh, can I just start by saying how great it was to Skype you. I mean... the connection and the 3 hours of getting it to work was probably annoying for you. But wow. So fun! Best present ever. You all looked so great and ahh I just love you all so much. 

Okay I want to hear all about the cabin! How is it?? I know you are having a good time, but let's be honest here. The real party people are gone... (Me and Mads of course). I hope everyone is having a great time! I'm so glad Grandma is up there with everyone! She is so amazing! Ahh I love our family. Is everyone there but the missionaries? (The cousins who are serving missions.) How cold is it? What great treats has Catherine been making?? Is Clayton up there and enjoying it all again? I still can't believe he's back. I hope you all are taking pictures! Give all the cousins and everyone a hug from me. :)

So obviously this week was Christmas. I was expecting to be pretty homesick and sad. I almost feel badly saying this... but I wasn't at all! Like we Skyped and it was GREAT! But other than that I didn't really think about home much. And when I did I was just happy you all were doing fun things. Soooo, being on a mission over the holidays is not as bad as they make it seem! 

SO let me tell you what we did on Christmas. First we opened presents! You are the best! I loved them all so much! It was crazy how similar all of mine and Sister Taylor’s gifts were haha. Like even the types of candy and stuff. But anyway, I love how you put so many traditions in my gifts! Like the chocolate orange... um yummm. And shortbread cookies. Wouldn't have felt like Christmas without them. And just everything. It was so perfect. Thank you! After that we went and Skyped you… or tried hahaha. I wasn't kidding when I said we walked laps around this place waiting for computer shops to open. We circled the whole town at least 3 times and then the one we finally found... no speakers and the camera was broken?! Haha What a joke! But it's all good. Sorry you had to miss caroling though to come back and talk later! Ok so after that whole ordeal, we went and dropped off a Secret Santa gift at one of our investigator’s houses. Think about this for a second... 2 Americans trying to discretely drop off a bag of Christmas presents... at a house with no doors or windows. AND right as we were walking up the street, the husband started riding past on his Padyak so we literally had to like jump into the forest haha. But he drove off and we bribed some little kids with cookies to go drop it at the house and we watched to make sure they actually did haha. So in the end we think it worked out. It was so fun to do Secret Santa because it was like we always do back at home! It was fun to do something for people here though because they literally had nothing to give their kids for Christmas. Nothing. After that we went home and made pancakes and did some of our studies. Then back to the computer shop to Skype you. As you know, it took like 3 more switching shops but hey! I finally got to see your beautiful faces! SO FUN! 

After Skyping we went to the Christmas party. Yes, it was actually on Christmas day and was about 5 hours haha. So different than America. But we realized it was a blessing because we were too busy doing stuff for that that we didn’t even have time to be homesick! Haha it was really fun. It was combined with both of the Tigaon wards. So the 6 missionaries in our ward and the 2 in the other all did a talent together for the talent show. We sang a few Christmas songs and then did the cup song from Pitch Perfect. Haha Brandon and Austin’s favorite! ;) We practiced the p-day before at 5:30 am and surprisingly, the elders got it down pretty well! We have videos from the Christmas party but with how the internet is here, you will probably be seeing those in about 16 months haha. It was fun though! Talents, games, spiritual messages, and dinner! Jessie Lou and Ronal came with their kids and Jenavie and her kids came! So it was great to have some of our investigators there! Ok then after the party the church was a WRECK! So I suggested that we stay and clean it as a service project, like all the missionaries. It was bad. Rice stuck everywhere. Well... after some planning and discussion, it ended up that the elders stayed and cleaned while the sisters went and cooked a Christmas feast and then we brought it back to the church for us all to eat. It was SO FUN. We cooked so much food. And I made no-bakes! So good haha thanks for the recipe Chris. Yea but we seriously felt like a catering service haha because we were still all matching from our talent thing and we had to get creative on packaging all that food up to take it to the church on the Padyak. Haha so we had our feast in the parking lot and it was just a good time. Christmas music, food, and fun! Haha a great Christmas day for sure!

And the day after Christmas... Sister Lindsey Heap’s 20th birthday!!!! Ahhh it was so weird because usually we are out of town so I call her every year on the morning of her birthday. Not this year :( Hopefully my email will be okay for now haha. 

Oh yea and Christmas Eve was good too. Sister Taylor and I read the birth of Jesus in the scriptures before we went to bed. It wasn't quite like reading Grandma's version, but it will work for now!
Okay I have to tell you what was probably my favorite part of the Skype call. Haha when I said I already had some great souvenirs for you all and mom said "Awww, my cute little shopper," and Casey said, "Why don’t you ever say that when I spend money?!" Watch out Case... I think there might be a new precious movin in hot! ;) 

Okay so I saw our Christmas newsletter thing on Skydrive. It was great haha. But what happened with Austin and the raccoons?! Haha I NEED to hear that story. And I'm so happy “Agua Frio whoop whoop whoop” made the cut! There are people like that all over the place here. Too funny. I am glad that you had the missionaries at the Heap’s again on Christmas Eve! And so glad you hooked them up with some giftzzz. I'm not kidding about having them over for dinner once a week when I get home haha. It's just nice being in active member’s houses sometimes. It can be a real pump-up after a long day! We have been getting fed a lot more lately. Not like dinner appointments but there are a lot of families where the grandparents are active but their kids/grandkids aren't. And they all live together so when we go teach the less-actives the grandparents will give us some pasta or tinapay or something like that. They are so nice!

Which reminds me. The family that’s my favorite, am I allowed to say that?? Anyway, their granddaughter is a recent convert so we teach her at their house a lot. I don't remember if I wrote you about the GIANT lizard from like a month ago. But it was at their house so I am always paranoid to go over there. Well I legit have nightmares of that lizard falling on me and it is so terrifying and so I have to like pump myself up to walk into the house. Sister Taylor told me that would NEVER happen though. SO this last week we are over there teaching and what falls onto my foot other than a lizard?!?! I have never been so athletic in my life! Haha I got up and ran out of the house. They were all laughing... glad they found joy in my misery at least! And Sister Taylor was just hysterically laughing because she said that has never happened and of course it happened to ME of all people. Not cool lizard, not cool. Luckily it wasn't one of the big ones or I would never be able to go see my favorite family ever again. But then! Last night we were over there teaching again and another one of those monster ones was on the wall. That house is cursed. 

There were a few more funny things I wanted to tell you about:
At the ward Christmas party I got out those Christmas stickers I wrote about and I was just giving them out since Christmas was ending and I was getting rid of them. Well then the swarm of children came and I couldn’t keep up so I handed a few pages of stickers to the elders. Apparently they aren’t used to the attack that comes when you whip stickers out because they were surrounded and yelling ahhh Sister Richmond. What have you done?!? Haha it was great. Thanks for the stickers mom. Seriously a huge hit! 

Okay the fireworks here! So scary! They have been constant since Christmas Eve and apparently go through New Years. But they are not pretty or cool. Just loud and scary. They sound like bombs going off all the time. It's like a war zone here!!!!! Sister Taylor and I realized if there really is a shooting or bombing we will never know because we have learned to just walk toward the explosive sounds and pray haha. Sketch.

The other night we were teaching and after they brought out this pasta stuff and a pitcher of water for us that we were pretty sure was unfiltered. Haha I was like shoot! What do we do? We can't just keep the pitcher full. Good thing Sister Taylor is a thinker! She was like, here pour some from the pitcher over the wall and I will fill our cups with water from my bottle! Worked out great! Don't worry, we are careful about the water!!!! At that same house the next day there were some wild geese. They are always there but this time they stared to CHARGE! Like for real. Heads down low just running straight at us. I grabbed on to Sister Taylor which I guess prevented her from running away and we both just stood there screaming. Haha sorry Sister Taylor! Don't do well in stressful situations!!!! :/ But the lady came out and started hitting them with a stick so we were safe. 

Okay last thing, promise! Yesterday we walked into sacrament and sat down and we were waiting for it to start. The counselor in the bishopric came over and said, Sister Richmond I am sorry to say you are speaking right now. Ummmm... what?!??! Haha I was like oh yea, okay no problem. And so we went up to sit on the stand. During the opening song he turned around and said, “Sister Taylor, you are speaking too.” HAHAH. Oh the Philippines. So yea I spoke on service... in Tagalog. It went better than I thought it would. A lot of people came up to me after and said my Tagalog is very impressive. Haha they are just being nice but it was still encouraging to hear! 

This was a great week. It really is such a privilege to be a representative on Jesus Christ during this season when the world worships Him so much. I am happy to be here. It can be hard sometimes trying to learn the language, but I really have such a greater testimony of prayer now. I love this church. I love these experiences I am having here. I love our investigators... especially when they keep their commitments. I love being a member of this church. And I love you all sooooo much. Thank you for your support and all that you do. I pray for you all the time! I hope you have a great time at the cabin. Give Grandma a hug for me :) Have a great week and have fun celebrating the New Year!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU. 

~Sister Richmond

Top 10
1. Skyping my family!
2. Ward Christmas party!
3. Christmas dinner with all the missionaries.
4. The weather.
5. Seeing pictures from the cabin.
6. I am in my favorite chapters in my BOM reading! Read Alma 34 today.
7. Transfer announcements-- Sister Taylor and I are both staying!
8. Hammocks are up and in action!
9. Woke up to my alarm today instead of at 4am!
10. I am a missionary!!!!

 Winter coat for this "frigid" weather

Christmas Eve dinner at the lizard house


 Reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve

  Christmas morning

 My stocking gifts!


 I had a heart attack

 Wasn't ready but just so you can see the computer shop better

 Best Christmas gift EVER

 Pre-talent show

 Ward Christmas party

 Jessie Lou and Ronal

 No Bakes!

 Sister catering service

 Christmas dinner!!!

 District meeting

 Switched hammock location for the ultimate setup


 The supply elders expect 2 sisters to figure out how to fill a propane tank haha. What?! 
We did it though!

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