Sunday, December 6, 2015

Woohooo! I'm still in the Philippines

Hello you blessed people of my life!

I love you all! It's so so fun to hear about everything that's going on at home. It helps a lot, I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything and I still get to participate in your lives!

I cannot believe how long I've been here. My 3 month mark is coming up. I will be 1/6 done with my mission! That's crazy! It's going so fast!

I'm slowly getting closer to the ward members here and it is great! They are wonderful! All the nanays (what they call the elderly ladies here) are like grandmothers to me for the time being. They're not the same, but they try to show their love so it is much appreciated:) Yesterday at church during testimony meeting, Sister Edtra - a recent convert who has been working with us a lot recently - got super emotional sharing her testimony because her testimonys been so strengthened by the sacrifices she sees us make and the time that we spend and the changes in the peoples lives who accept the gospel. I didn't understand a lick of what she said but Sister Mortensen told me later and it was a heart warming moment:) 

I want to start telling you about the people I'm teaching! I'll try to write about one in each email!

First is Tatay Dineros (Tatay is what they call the elderly men:)). He's a less active that leaves his wife each week, only returning on saturday, because he goes and works in the mountain, chopping up big rocks into small pieces that they use for construction. They pay him 500 pesos a week for his work - the equivalent of that is $10!!!!! That's it! He works so hard and he is the sweetest man. Each time we've been able to teach him, he's just wonderful. He's been doing so much better with not smoking because he's beginning to see the toll it's taking on his body. He and his wife are wanting so bad to be a part of the next group that makes the trip to the Cebu temple so that they can get married in the temple and sealed to eachother. He hasn't been coming to church a lot, especially when he smokes because he feels bad about it but we've tried to explain the purpose of it. I told him, in broken waray waray, that church is like a hospital - everyone is sick in their own way and we all need it to get better! Just because other members aren't smoking, it doesn't mean they don't have their own personal struggles. One thing I love about him is his love of music. He can't read or write, but music is his passion and he just blasts rock and roll throughout his small home. Haha that's how we know when he's home from work:)

This next week is going to be a blast! We have the zone tour that we have to travel the 8 hours to Tacloban for. We're traveling tomorrow and then the tour is wednesday. I'm not really sure what it is. I think a member of the seventy who is over our area is making a trip to a lot of the missionaries throughout the mission and visiting them, and then we're having one big meeting with half the mission in Tacloban on Wednesday. Apparently there's a grocery store there that might actually have yogurt, so I'm pumped! They don't have milk or cheese or yogurt here! Ahhh! Or salad:( Enjoy you Americans. AND! Theres this American from Texas who lives in Tacloban and runs a Mexican restaurant. Hallelujah! So pumped! 

There's so many things going on in December. It's so fun. We're having Christmas parties for the ward coming up and a going away party for my roommates - Sister Salamanca and Sister Lucero. This week is their last week in the mission. I cannot believe they've been here this long!!! It's insane. March 2017 feels so far away sometimes but then I think about how fast everything else is going and then it's just right around the corner. 

Being here is quite the adventure. There's always like some crazy new story or cool thing. There's this house in our area that I'm obsessed with. This house can barely be seen behind the giant wall in front of it and all the trees around it. It's huge!!!! Which is absolutely amazing considering most houses here are half the size of Kacie's room and made of bamboo and cardboard. Even for American this house is huge. And it's surrounded by this giant wall. And no one lives there. No one knows why it's there or who takes care of it, because someone does the gardening. Hehe there's all these ghost stories about it it's quite exciting:) I'm making up for my lack of a Halloween. 

Everyone still stares at us and points and it's still weird but I'm almost getting used to it. Frozen is huge here and all the kids think Sister Mortensen is Elsa and I am Ana. Hahahaha they're so cute. 

My emotional state and physical state I think have finally come to terms with it being here in the Philippines. I'm amazed that so many people finish their missions because this last month was one of the hardest of my life. But now that I've made that hurtle, it's easy to see how much I have to learn and grow and how many people that can be blessed with the gospel in their lives if they open their hearts to it!

I miss you guys so much!!!! I'm so so grateful for the gospel and a loving Heavenly Father who has such a wonderful plan for us. I cannot imagine going through life not knowing if our families will be together forever. That would be so hard. It's wonderful to be able to know where we came from, why we're even here, and where we're going! And the great thing about all of it is that the people we teach shouldn't take our word for it. We're 20 year old girls. We don't know everything. But Heavenly Father does and he loves us and I know that we can know these things for ourselves if we have a true desire to and we pray with real intent. 

Can't wait to skype you all for Christmas!!!!!!! So excited!!!!!!!

I love you all!! Be happy! Say your prayers. Try to grow in the gospel. 

Say hi to the extended family for me I miss them!

I'll email you all next week. Love you:)

Sister Russon


Also, the computers aren't working with pictures today. I'm sorry! I'll try again next week!

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