Sunday, October 11, 2015

Kamusta Pamilya! (Hello Family - pretty close to Spanish, right?)

It's unbelievably so true what they say. Each day feels like eternity but the weeks feel like days. I cannot believe I am already HALFWAY DONE WITH THE MTC! This week I get my travel plans too! Woohoo! This thing is gettin' real. So far I know that I will be flying to San Fran - aw, the lovely - and there we will have a 5 hour layover to do nothing but call family on the pay phones there. They have pay phone cards in the bookstore. It's like $5.00 for 500 minutes of time so don't worry about sending a prepaid phone:) From San Francisco, we'll be flying to Hong Kong! I don't know if we're allowed to leave the airport yet but I hope so! I need to see at least one real life Chinese person in their natural habitat. The next flight will be to the Philippines. I think we'll be flying straight to Manila where we'll stay for a week in the MTC. More details on that when I have my travel plans:)

Aw...the Philippines. It's becoming more real every day and I'm SO EXCITED! My Cebuano teacher, Brother Pasikala, served in Cebu where Elder Hair and Elder Tauba from our district are going (Elder O'Rullian, Elder Gervacio, Sister O'Sumo, and Sister Cook are going to the Cebu East Mission. Sister Garcia, Elder Seegmiller, and Elder Guertler, and I are going to Tacloban.) Anyways, shortly after Brother Pasikala returned from his mission, he went back to the Philippines but this time to Tacloban with 40 other return missionaries to assist in the humanitarian aid. He made a video of it and put it on Youtube. It is so cool! He showed it to us and it got me so excited!!!! Look it up. The title of the video is "2014 Help International Philippines Crisis Team". Hopefully you can find it. Brother Pasikala is the tall Hawaiian dude with the beard. 

Each day we just hear more and more stories about the Philippines. A couple nights ago, Sister Cook (who is honestly like the coolest person in the world and I'll probably go backpack Europe or go back to the Philippines with one day) told us about her humanitarian trip in the orphanage last year in the Philippines. She said it was one of the most amazing things of her life. She attempted to try and explain to us how the Philippinos view white people. It's very interesting. She told us about this girl named ChiChi she worked with in the orphanage a lot during the month she was there. ChiChi grew up in an abusive home, and in the Philippines the government doesn't have assist programs for things like that. The owner of the orphanage lets ChiChi sleep there and feeds her and in return ChiChi gets the rooms ready and works all day long. She starts at 4am and doesn't finish until 8pm. Sister Cook told of a day when they were asked to clean the bathrooms. After they finished cleaning the sinks, Sister Cook grabbed a toilet cleaner and went to clean toilets when suddenly ChiChi grabbed it out of her hand. She refused to let her clean the toilet. Sister Cook said that previous to this, she'd tried to explain that she had done chores at home, but ChiChi didn't believe her. Apparently everyone in the Philippines thinks that all Americans have maids and that we don't do anything. There view of us is so...hard to describe. It's not like they think we're stuck up and spoiled, they literally just think that because we're white, we're too good for stuff like cleaning toilets. Sister Cook said that she finally wrestled the toilet brush away from ChiChi as ChiChi was screaming no at her. She got it and started to clean and all of a sudden, this small crowd of Philippinos gathered around and watched her just in pure shock. Sister Cook said she just went home and cried. 

A lot of people have told us we need to be ready for that first moment we get to the Philippines. This is the largest group of white missionaries they've sent in a long time. They said it's almost going to be like we're celebrities or something. Many have told me I especially need to prepare myself because they're going to be fascinated with my hair which is about the color orange for some reason right now. It just sounds like this is going to be the most humbling experience. 

One thing Sister Cook did say was that she took a bunch of those bracelets made out of string and gave them to the kids there. They were a huge hit. Every child would come up to her and just grin and show her the bracelet they were wearing. So, if anyone wants a service project, start making bracelets:)

I seriously have the coolest people in my district. 

This week we found out that Elder Tauba, the Figian, is a national icon in Figi. And he didn't even tell us until we pried it out of him 2 DAYS AGO! We've been here for 3 weeks! And we just found out! He's on the national volleyball team and has traveled all over the world playing volleyball. This is his second time to Utah. The first, he came to play BYU and they smoked 'em:) His mom is a professional singer in Figi and he has sung with her in many a concert. So he's a professional singer and volleyball player. Because of his national identity, Figi airlines have a recorded message of his voice welcoming all the passengers to Figi playing on every plane. AND, there's a giant post of him with his arms outstretched above the airport that says, "Welcome to Figi". ANNNND... Because he's such a cool guy some author apporached him and asked to write a book on him. So he has his own book. I think his Biography is called "Rising from the Beach?" Something like that. His first name is Paneia...something like that. It's hard to pronounce. He also is a convert to the church and because of his missionary work, his family is now taking discussions from missionaries. He has a twin back at home and a year ago was engaged but was left at the alter. This guy has been through everything and he is one of the sweetest people I've ever met. All the Polynesians are in our district. They're just so happy! I'm so excited to go to the Philippines!

This week was my birthday and it was just amazing. I have the best district in the whole wide world. The night before, Sister Cooks grandma sent us all carameled apples, and Elder Hairs mom sent him all this junk food. After class we layed it all out on this table and had a pow wow. Do you have any idea what happens when you get 10 young adults who haven't had a weekend in about a month on a sugar high? It was an insane night. So much fun. We had a blast!!!!! The next morning, I wake up and my roommates had stayed up decorating our door! It was so cute! I sent a picture of it! SWEET Sister Garcia gave me a present. She had filled a bag with balloons and bought me a new notebook and a cute pen at the bookstore. Who knows how on Earth she did that without me knowing. I'm with her 24/7! She is amazing. Inside there was also a card that all the roomies had signed and Sister Cook and Sister Osumo from our district. I just love them all!. 

Then we went to breakfast and then class for some personal study before conference. We didn't see any of the elders at breakfast which was weird, but when we went to the classroom I knew why. Those wondrous creations of God sang me Happy Birthday as I came into the classroom and gave me 2 cards and 2 twix bars!!! All of them had signed both cards. Ahhh! I love them all so much!!! Then we went to conference later that day - both sessions. At the end of the night, we had a district meeting and kind of went over what we learned and felt from conference. That night was crazy. The spirit was so strong and everyone really opened up to each other. Everyone was crying about the Elder Holland talk about moms. We all miss our mommies:) Elder O'Rullians got me the most. He told his adoption story and how his mom found him through facebook. What's insane is that Sister Heath, one of my roommates, found her biological mom on facebook right around the time Elder O'Rullian did, just a month before the mission. Both of them have met their families, Sister Heath's parents are still together. Both of them have had the opportunity to meet their other siblings from these families and their parents, adopted and biological, just love each other. Families are amazing. Elder O'Rullians story got us all. He's another super cool person in our district. The funniest guy I've probably ever met, and super spirtual too. He's also been my coach occasionaly when I decide that my body can handle any pain and I volunteer to participate in his daily ab workout. I'm pretty sure he's trying to kill me. 

One of the best things about this week
has been Maryn Brady:)! 

(I had to add this picture of Makenna and Maryn in 2nd grade in Albuquerque New Mexico... look how cute they are!)

After our district discussion, we all wiped away the tears and told each other we loved each other and went back to our residences. Maryn came and visited me in my room. She brought me a cupcake, a bag of oreos, a sobe, and a card! Aw she is the best!!!! Over this last week, we were visiting each other every night. It is absolutely AMAZING how fast we clicked back. It's been 11 years for heavens sake! 18 months is gonna be nothing! She's already in her mission now in Salt Lake, AND, KAYSVILLE IS IN HER MISSION!!!! So Mom, Dad, if you see her have her over for dinner. She's a bundle of joy. 

Thank you so much for the package. I loved it so much!!!!!!!! I loved all the notes too! Please tell Grammy I loved her note and it made me cry and I love her and Grandpa so much!:)

I loved hearing from all the girls this week! Hahahahaha. Kac and Lex are such funny writers. I was dying laughing on the floor when Lex was talking about the concert and Kacie said that she felt like a baby bird as they squirted water into her mouth. And Tessa's note, just so cute! I read it to everyone in my district. We all loved it! 

Please tell Aunt Sue that I loved the package she sent! That was SO THOUGHFUL OF HER! She sent me a box of candy. She also sent me a letter and I really appreciated it. Tell her thank you thank you thank you and send my love!!

I love it when Dad sends me pictures! Send me more!!!! 

Also, that lullaby from the Cinderella movie has been stuck in my head, and if you have the opportunity to send me all the lyrics, it would be much appreciated:) 

Hope everyone liked conference!!!! My favorite talk was, other than Holland's, the one from Uchtdorf in the women's conference about happiness. It was the last talk. If you haven't watched it, watch it with the family! It's so good!!! The gospel brings so much happiness, it's amazing. 

I feel so lucky to be a missionary. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I've never EVER been so emotionally and mentally tested. The language is hard. So is keeping your sanity. However, this by far is the best thing I've ever done. As far as growing and learning and developing as an individual goes. There's so many things I'm learning and it's so fun!!! One thing I wanted to tell you all is that in many classrooms, there are one way mirrors. There aren't rooms behind those mirrors anymore so that people can look in without us knowing because they've been blocked off by walls. However, they are there because several years ago, the government sent in people to watch how missionaries were being taught the language. They couldn't get the military to learn it in under a year. The reason missionaries learn it so fast is because we have our Heavenly Father behind us. The gift of tongues is such a real thing it's amazing. So is the gift of prayer. I know that our prayers are heard and that they aren't always answered in the way we want them to be, but they are answered. 

Love you all so much!!!! Always!!! 

Keep me updated on everything! Love love love xoxoxoxoxoxox

Sister Kenna Russon

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