A great day for a letter from the lovely Sister Thomas:
Letter #1 from the MTC in the Philippines
Maganda Umaga mi pamilya!
or perhaps i should say maganda hapi po, since it is night over there. haha it friday morning for me over here in the philippines and i am so excited to FINALLY have a day to write to you all. i have been anxiously waiting for this day because i have so much to report!!
i am having a really crazy time here at the mtc. i can't believe that i have only been in here for a week. with everything i have done and learned, i feel like it has been a month or two. wow.
so, from the get go this has been an adventure for me. when my group and i arrived at the airport on thursday night, our shuttle driver wasn't there. he didn't show up for two hours!! we were pulling our luggage around for two hours before we finally paid for a taxi driver to take us to the hotel. GEEZE. wandering around manilla at midnight with nothing but luggage and fancy church clothes was quite the riot. but, we made it nonetheless.
on friday i got put into my district, Abinidi, and was given my companion. her name is Sister Foukimoana. she is from tonga, and her main language is tongan, not english. but her english is decent enough for us to communicate and both whine about how much we hate tagalog. haha she is a sweetheart with so much fun and laughter! in fact, all three of the other girls in my room are tongan. sister tui'one is the one from utah, and sister kinikini is also straight from tonga. life is always a party when you are surrounded by tongans. haha their culture is alot different from mine but so far we are all enjoying each other's company and learning from each other.
in my district i have the four girls, and two other elders. Elder Armatage is one of the elders you met at the airport from Alipine. he is a great leader and is excelling in his tagalog. he is kind and encouraging to the rest of us. his companion is Elder Naulu, who is also tongan but he is from Australia. so we have alot of variety in the Abinidi district. but, we all get along so well and we all help each other on our hard days.
i have also made friends with two sister from Australia. Sister Mckim and Sister Rae. They are my ozzie sisters here in the mtc. i love spending time with them. the three of us get along really well, and have alot to talk about. i love those two sisters so much already.
it is interesting being surrounded by so many cultures out here in the philippines. the people are all so kind and nice, and just love to meet americans. the filipinos have told me that i look like a barbie doll, avril lavigne, and jessica simpson. hahahaha i died laughing. they all just want to touch my hair and they always ask me where i got all of my clothes. props to you mom, i have been voted the best dressed in the mtc already. haha every morning at breakfast everyone makes me stop and show off what i am wearing. sort of embaraasing, but hey, whatever. they love it. they think it is the greatest thing in the world.
i will admit, courtney was right, the mtc is HARD. every single day we learn so much and they had us teaching investigators in tagalog by day 2. i was really overwhelmed at first, and the language was really frustrating me. i am still struggling with it alot and i feel like they expect me to catch on alot faster than i actually am. on wednesday, i was having a really awful time. i was in a bad mood, i was starving (the food here will take some getting used to), and i could not speak the language the way i wanted to. my kasama (companion) and i had a lesson with our investogator that didn't go anywhere and i was just being negative. i was homesick and wanting to leave. but i prayed my guts out that night to have heavenly father testify to me if being out here on my mission was really the best decision for me. then, on thursday morning me and my kasame taught our investigator first thing. we changed our whole lesson plan and so we didn't have alot of time to prepare. i prayed that the spirit would carry us through. i was so worried about my language when i got in there but i just felt prompted to share my testimony with here about the Holy Ghost. as i did so, the Lord filled my mouth. i was able to share my entire testimony in almost full tagalog without looking at any notes. i began to cry, or really sob, as i shared this testimony. my investigator was also crying, along with my kasama! the room was filled with the spirit so strongly and i could not believe what had just happened. we then got her to commit to baptism, and she begged us to come back the next day. it was amazing.
even though these mtc investigators are not real, the spirit that was in that room was real. i have never felt like that ever in my life. that whole experience made me realize why i am out here on a mission. i am not here to be the best speaker, or to be the greatest leader, or the best missionary in the whole world. i am here to help bring the gospel into the lives of those who do not have it.
i am grateful that the lord answered my prayers, and i can feel that if i just have faith, he will help me with the language. it is soooooo hard. but, the lord knows what he is doing.
how is bowen? is he having a lovely summer? how about hannah?? i miss both of those hooligans like crazy. the filipinos love seeing pictures of my family, and so do the tongans! they think we are all so beautiful, and so lucky. i am lucky. i have the greatest family. and on my hardest days out here, i just think back home to you guys and think about how i want everyone to have what we have.
i love you all!