Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jessica's Twentieth Email! February 23rd, 2014

Hello everyone! I hope that you all had a great week! I did here in Tigaon! And it kinda flew by. We had exchanges and interviews this week so those both made it go by pretty quickly! Exchanges were good! I worked here in Tigaon with one of our Sister Training Leaders, Sister Alibogha. She is a Filipina and way sweet. It was a fun day. Then interviews are always the best for a few reasons! We get to see President and Sister Reeder, we get a homemade chocolate chip cookie, and we get to combine with another district and see a lot of missionaries!

There are a few things I thought of this week about the Philippines that are way different than home. At first these things seemed so weird to me, but now they are just the usual haha. The first is eggs. Here you just buy eggs in a bag off the street. They aren't in a fridge or anything. At first I was scared to eat them haha but we just take them home, wash them, and put them in the fridge. Another is people driving around on a motorcycle, steering with one hand, holding a dead chicken by the throat with the other hand. I see that a few times a day. Another thing that is different in the Philippines is divorce, because it doesn't exist. You can't get divorced here, which is a big problem for a lot of our investigators who were married, left their spouse and now live with their new "spouse" who they aren't actually married to. I mean, I'm all about marriages working out, but sometimes they just don't. And these people are just in a trap. It's so crazy. I think someone said this is the only country without divorce. Also makes our investigators a little more hesitant to get married sometimes. Bread here is strictly a morning food haha. I always stop at the bread bakery in the afternoon for a roll and so people always ask what we eat in America. Then before I can answer they say, oh... you just eat bread for every meal huh?! Haha what! No! I think America has more variety than anywhere. SO ya, Filipinos think you are all sitting at home eating loafs of bread right now.

This week I was doing my Doctrine and Covenants reading and it mentioned a few of the places we went on that church history motor home trip. Haha such a funny vacation, and for sure one of my all time favorites. I am so blessed to have been in so many of these places where such important events in church history took place! Thank you mom and dad for that amazing trip. I will never forget it!
So last week we had a family home evening at a families house. We said okay, what do you want to sing for the opening hymn? And hello flashback!! Haha that FHE where Bub kept insisting we sing Like a G6. Everyone. Remember to do FHE! Even just a little one! Such a good strength in families! I love doing FHEs here. They love it!

I am reading the Liahona right now of last Octobers conference talks. So good! There were 2 things that really stood out to me. I hope you go back and read conference talks when you get the chance. We have modern day revelation from God... how lucky are we?!?!? So in President Boyd K. Packer's talk I love this part: "The gospel teaches us to be happy, to have faith rather than fear, to find hope and overcome despair, to leave darkness and turn toward the light of the everlasting gospel." So great! Love that! The gospel is the way to overcome EVERYTHING! Turn to the gospel and you will be blessed. So simple, so powerful. The other talk I liked a lot was Elder S. Gifford Nielson's "Hastening the Lord's Game Plan." I think I enjoyed it so much because I just pictured Brother Heap standing up in seminary, always with a great sports analogy haha. But sometimes that's just the most effective way! Love that I was a part of the 7th ward seminary "team!" Anyway. Read the talks. Even just once a week, go back and allow yourself to be uplifted and motivated. The best!

While I'm on a spiritual note, let me just tell you my favorite scripture! Well, one of them! Mosiah 2:41. We really are so much happier when we are following the commandments. I know for a fact that is true!

Alright, now a horrible story for you all. Haha. Just yesterday, Sister Simpson and I trekked up the volcano like we do every Sunday. When we got up there we decided to find this guy who she had talked to on the bus on our way home from transfers. We found him and got in and it was a little hot so his daughter rushed to the kitchen to make us a drink. But we didn't know. We thought she just left. So then she comes walking with this HUGE pitcher. They poured it and it looked a little more clear than the usual tang so I asked what it was and the dad said apple juice. SAFE! Score. So we both take a sit and right as I'm thinking, uhhh ohhh, this doesn't taste like apple juice, his daughter says Iced tea actually! NOOOO. haha So then we just awkwardly set them down and left them full until we were leaving and we explained. Haha we felt SO bad and it was SO awkward. And worst part, we drank tea! Haha don't worry. We repented :) Gotta be careful what you drink around here!

Mom, you should be happy to know that I have discovered Sister Simpson likes taking pictures, like a lot! Like 10 times more than I take pictures. So I think you will get plenty this transfer.

Also SHOUTOUT to the best dad ever!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPARUSKIZZLE!!! Hope you enjoy your big day!!! Enjoy that apple sauce spice cake with homemade chocolate frosting that I know you will be eating...

And have fun if you end up going on a trip this weekend! Don't worry I won't be jealous... Don't worry, I will try not to be jealous!

Have a wonderful week! Know that I love you all. I know that this church is true. God's kingdom on the earth, and it is our responsibility to build it! So get out there and do what you can to help the missionaries!! :) And most of all, be an example to everyone around you. Especially you two boys! Love and miss you all!
Love, Sister Richmond

I try to be positive, which means no bottom 10 for the week. But let me just tell you... if I had a bottom 10, number one would surely be that Tigaon has run out of jelly!!! I have checked every grocery store here! All 3 of them haha. How am I supposed to survive without PB&J?! Hopefully they get their shipment in soon! I will keep you posted ;)

Top 10
1. Interviews
2. The cookie every missionary gets at interviews
3. Exchanges
4. Uki Uki finds last p-day
5. Tons of lessons this week
6. Sis Simpsons face when we asked a potential investigator to say the closing prayer and she said. Okay, everyone stand. Awkward.
7. Had a few coolish days this week. Summer is fast approaching though
8. Discovered some boneless chicken at this little stand
9. Some real solid potential investigators
10. Tracting when we had an hour and nowhere to go. Always a nice laugh.

My companion thinks what I eat is funny

She took this to show her family

I would say it's not everyday you see a goat walking down the sidewalk... 
but it totally is

 My little friend


 Walkin around

Corn from Nanay Abay. So good!!!!

 Little Jarine. Love her

 The boy is 2 and the girl is 1 hahah

Late night padyak rides

Sis Simpson really excited about something I guess??

We were waiting to copy something so I tried these on and all the ladies 
in the shop were laughing and yelling Taylor Swift haha. 
Obvi they don't know what t swift looks like!

My fave padyak driver

The companion

 Trying to tract the big houses. 
Hard to yell Tao Po from the other side of the fence.
 Which is how you "knock" here.

 Long day

 Happy missionary :)

 Decided to try the biggest house in Tigaon

 Saturday Nightttt

 My companions dinner from a street vendor. 
I don't even want to know.

 Arts and Crafts time.

 Thought you might enjoy this horribly awkward picture we had to take for our visa.

And then Brother Gerald hopped in...

 And then Brother Gerald hopped in...

 Love the walk up the Volcano!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jessica's Nineteenth Email! Third Transfer! February 16th, 2014

Hello everyone! It was quite the week here in Tigaon. Sister Taylor is down closer to Naga I think and I have a new companion. Her name is Sister Simpson. She is 20 years old. From Fiji. Really happy... all the time... about everything. Which is so shocking to me because she just lost her dad a few weeks ago. She is a good example to me about dealing with hard situations and I think I will learn a lot from her. She is my follow-up trainer. But since I was in Tigaon, I am leading the area. Which is a lot harder of a task than I thought haha. Obviously she doesn't really know too many people yet, so I have to lead all the planning. Have legit backups for every hour of every day. And know how to get around to everywhere we need to go. Kinda stressful at times but it has been such a good learning experience for me. I have had to learn to rely on the guidance of the spirit so much more in the last week. I miss Sister Taylor and this has been a hard adjustment, so I have prayed more than I could imagine for help, charity, and patience. I am really seeing the blessings from God so clearly. It's so powerful when you pray with such real intent knowing that the absolute only way to keep going is through the help of the Lord and His atonement. I have learned that the atonement is so powerful in so many ways, not just when we mess up. Christ knows all the little things that we go through daily. He knows when your companion says "oh my goulie" (vegetable in Tagalog) just a few too many times and you want to cry haha. He knows it all. He has been there. And He has been there for me and for you and for everyone. I am so grateful for Him. It's really the only way to go through life and learn to "endure to the end". 

Okay so on Monday night, my last night with Sister Taylor, we decided we had to eat Balut... (Partially developed embryo in the egg that you eat with the beak and all.) I had promised I would before we were split up. She already has once before but she's awesome so she did it with me again. And the other 2 sisters in our house. It was horrible. Got a 5 minute video of me gagging for you. Shocking, I know. Internet here is horrible though so my guess is that you will be seeing that when I get home haha. But hey, now I never have to eat it again! Sister Taylor just kept saying "4 minutes of pain, and an eternity of fame!" Haha oh Sister Taylor...

Mom she also told me that I am the best shopper she knows, so I figure that will make you proud. She said if I want something, I will go to all ends until I find it. Haha I am probably not a good influence on her, but when you can buy a hammock for 2 American dollars, I mean... come on! You just gotta!

So on Tuesday morning we headed down to NAGA for transfer announcements. On the bus there was this guy like 3 rows in front of us. We were in the back row so it's like a foot higher than the rest. He whipped out his iPhone and switched his camera to be like the selfie way. And he literally held it up and zoomed in on us and started taking pictures. Ummm soooo creepy hahah. We were like waving like hello! We can obviously see you! But that didn't stop him. So I had plenty of time to get my own camera out and capture the moment. Haha sometimes being a white person in the Philippines is just really weird. Especially because now that Sister Taylor is gone I am 99% sure that I am the only white female living in all of Tigaon. It's funny.

So we got down to Naga and had some time so we hit up PIZZZZZA HUTTT. You know the one... like with the CHEESE?!?! (They do not have cheese normally in the Philippines at all, so she never gets to eat it.) ahhh dairy. It will be such a sweet reunion. K ADD. So we ate and then headed to the church. Really stressful when you are like the 5th to last name to be called. So you stand up and they say your companions name. And apparently it's switched up on the paper. So President and both the AP's stand up and are like wait! That's wrong. So they have a little pow-wow up front trying to figure out who my companion is! And meanwhile I was just super awkwardly standing in front of everyone... in the front row... alone because Sister Taylor had already gone to sit by her companion. And you would not believe the tension in that room. Haha already such a stressful 30 minutes. But then! After like a minute they sorted it out and yep... Sister Simpson!

Okay so the bus ride back was crazy. I was speaking Tagalog! I started talking to the guy next to me, a dad of 3. Got his info to give to the elders in that area. My Tagalog has gotten way better this week from leading! I think just because I've had to be the one to start all the conversations with all the people who we teach because I know them. But the gift of tongues is real. I feel so much more confident now in my Tagalog! It's insane. In just one week. And I am now officially out of training! That means only one hour of companionship study now instead of 2 which is nice because we have more time to teach. We got a crazy amount of lessons in this week. It was fun to teach a lot.

Also this week I finished reading the Book of Mormon!! Yayyy. Such a powerful book. It blows me away the difference that prayer can play in reading the Book of Mormon. I got so much more out of it this time than ever before and I know that it is because I prayed earnestly before every time I read for an understanding and a love of the book. I know that my prayers were answered. When you read with real intent and do the things that it says to do in Moroni 10:3-5 I know that Moroni's promise is fulfilled. Even as members of the church, if we follow the outline given to us in those verses, our testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon will be strengthened. It's so awesome.

Okay one quick story. We had an appointment with a less active. Trekked through some rice fields to his house only to get to the house right beside his and see him so drunk. Wearing this like camo trench coat thing. Dancing. Then he saw us and quickly turned around and pulled the top of the coat over his head like trying to hide from us. But just stood in the same place. It was so hard not to laugh haha. So we started talking to the neighbor whose house he was at and he seemed like he could use the gospel in his life because duhhh... everyone can. So we started to teach him... he was so hard to teach. Just tried to Bible Bash the whole time. So after a little while we figured we had wasted enough time so we just said we would come back another time and then we left. The whole lesson though our drunk little member friend was like yelling "oh yes! Praise the Lord!" "He is Risen!" and all these things that I think they would yell out in other churches haha. It's clearly been a while since he went to church. Oh ya and he's like in his 60's. At least it was a good laugh afterwards.

Last transfer we didn't have ANY changes in our district. This time, every single companionship changed. One comp stayed and one left in each companionship. Our district is way fun now! Especially with our new district leader! It's Elder Hausia! The guy Christie knows from BYU! He is so funny. Our district meeting was like a stand up comedy act. There is also an elder in our district now from Sandy, Utah. He went to the same high school as some of my good friends from BYU and knows them super well. The Mormon world is such a small world haha. I love it.

Church yesterday was good! We left our apartment like an hour early and just booked it fast-walking all around Tigaon at a ton of less active and investigator's houses to remind them about church. It paid off because our less active count at church was way high and we even had 5 investigators at church. Such a miracle. I was also fortunate enough to give a talk at church. Eight minute warning before sacrament meeting haha. It's a good thing they don't print programs here because you really just never know... But I spoke on strengthening families. I think it went OKAY for no preparation haha.

Overall it was a good week! Change is hard, but that is just the life of a missionary and I will just have to learn to live with it!! Thank you all for your love and support. You are in my prayers. Stay safe and share the gospel! You will be blessed. I PROMISE!

Have a wonderful week and I think you have the day off school tomorrow so enjoy it! LOVE YOU and MISS YOU!

Mahal Kita,
Sister Richmond

Top 10
1. Finished the Book of Mormon
2. Out of Training
3. Started a new diet plan so I won't be fat anymore
4. Ate Balut so I never have to do that again
5. Church attendance yesterday
6. Tagalog is improving so much more
7. Most of the week was pretty bearable weather
8. Found some solid new investigators
9. Pizza hut
10. Transfer announcements- always fun to be in a room full of missionaries!

 FHE with two of my fave neighborhood girls

 Jeanavie's kids

 Another successful FHE at the Abay's

 She is the reason that not holding babies is hard <3

Nanay Abay

 Last time teaching with Sister Taylor


My lil' pal

 You can't even see most of the people in this picture haha

 Accidental self timer shot.
 But I thought I'd put it on here for proof for 
mom that I really ate Balut.

Heading to Naga

 Sketchy being on the back row cause it's elevated. 
Coulda slid right out!


 American snacks make the world go round.

 And then the elders hopped on board about 40 minutes into our journey. 
What a nice surprise!

 Bus ride

 The creepy guy "discretely" taking our picture

 Pizza Hut

 Pure Joy

 The biggest store I have been to in the Philippines. 
Like a real life grocery store!!!!

 So insane

 Elder Davis in his final moments as AP

 Biggest transfer announcement in Naga Mission History!

 Sad Moment

 Sister Taylor and I with our new Companions

 Even got president in the background

 Meet Sister Simpson!

Goa zone with President and Sister Reeder, and the Assistants at Zone training

 The bus ride back with the Elders

 They go all out for the 1st birthday!


 Rizza, one of our investigators.
 And her son at his birthday

Yep... I ate it. Nope... I have no idea what it is

At the Bongats

 Valentine's day

Valentine's card from my little friend Erica

 The new district!

 Another uki uki find. The same as one American Dollar

Long story... This picture was for sister Taylor

 Scary when Brother Gerald has you eat at his house!

 Brother Gerald and his creation. Yum?

 A family we just started teaching

 The Zape's came to church!!!

The twins... back at it!!!