Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the Philippines - September 1, 2013

Hey hey hey!'s SEPTEMBER!! In America, I'm not sure what that means, but here in the Philippines, it means it's officially time to start preparing for Christmas. That's legit. I was warned about it, but didn't realize how true it was until last week (August 25, actually) when we sang Joy to the World to open our lesson, and then in church yesterday, our Branch President talked about Christmas in his testimony (their first Christmas as parents--his wife is due to give birth in November). I hope it doesn't get overwhelming right away, because I LOVE Christmas, but there are only like 14 Christmas hymns and if I have to sing each of them every day from now until December, I fear I might not love them anymore. :P
But I am excited for a new month. It's weird, because it feels like I was just saying "It's already August!", but I actually love having a new calendar to look at and we have a lot going on this month that I am excited about (Stake Conference, Zone Conference, Temple Day, 2 Baptisms, Transfers).

Also from last week that I forgot to mention: we went to Temple Tour (a day to take investigators and LA's to the temple and they get to learn more about what goes on there). I think I talked about when we hosted for it, but this was the first time I actually got to go. Unfortunately, since our area split, we didn't have any investigators that wanted to/were able to come. But the other sisters in the branch had about 20 kids that came and wanted to go. Our district (5 companionships) had rented a jeepney for the day to take us there and back, because taxis are crazy expensive, and it's hard to find people with cars. For all those who don't know what a jeepney is, probably the best thing to do is google image it, because it is beyond my ability to describe it right now. But anyhow, a typical jeepney will fit about 20 people. If you are lucky (i.e. SUPER CRAMMED) you can maybe fit 25. That's what the "capacity" says at least. So it was pretty much a miracle that we were able to fit ALL 40 OF US in the one jeepney. Pretty much every single older kid and parent had a little kid on his/her lap, and a couple of us sisters were on our companion's laps as well. It's hard to say whether it was dangerous, or more secure because we were so compact....thankfully traffic in the Philippines is super chill (at least from a passenger perspective) and it didn't feel dangerous at all. Just cramped and a little hot. But temple tour was worth it. I just love being at the temple. :)

Another highlight of my week this week was making American food (like real, food-from-home food. Thank you, Mom, for the recipes!). Here's a peek at our meal on Friday--chicken enchiladas and rice (of course) with salsa. It was pretty much the greatest thing ever. :)

Going along with the cooking theme--we had to find somewhere that sold real cheese, because the cheese they use here really shouldn't be classified as cheese, in my opinion. But I wanted to make both enchiladas and mac 'n' cheese (which I did, and it was delicious as well). We ventured to Shopwise in the hopes of finding some (the Elders had mentioned that it had a lot of american food), and were completely unprepared for the experience. I swear, it was like walking into a Walmart. They had SO MUCH American food/products, or at least good equivalents. A little expensive, comparatively, but so worth it for real cheddar cheese. :) I'm going to attempt to make some Filippino food this week, though, because we have a Filippino cookbook and I feel like I should develop some skills while I'm here and have access to the real deal ingredients-wise.

As for what I learned this week--there are two themes from our lessons this week. One is more of a fun-fact about Tagalog. In Tagalog, the word "sakit" (sah-kit) means pain or sickness. So to say "walang sakit" means "not to have pain/sickness" basically. This is the coolest thing ever for teaching the Word of Wisdom, because SAKIT also doubles as an acronym for the things that the Word of Wisdom warns us against:
S - Sigarilyo (Cigarettes/Tobacco)
A - Alak (Alcohol)
K - Kape (Coffee)
I - Ipinabawal na gamot (Illegal drugs)
T - Tsaa (Tea)
So to remember what to avoid, you can just remember: for walang sakit (pain/sickness), just have walang SAKIT (i.e. avoid the things the Lord has warned us are not good for us). Tagalog is pretty great! :)

Secondly, the themes our our teaching this week seems to be centered on 3 Nephi 12:14-16 (or Matthew 5:14-16). We have a few investigators who are interested in our message, but their families are not. We've been talking about what it means to be a light, and how one person choosing to live the Gospel blesses so many others.  Christ says: "I give unto YOU to be the light of this people" and that if we put that light "on a giveth light to all that are in the house." I know that that is true. I know that the knowledge and the spirit that we are blessed with is given to us for a reason. It's not just given to bless us, it is given so that others can be blessed as well, through our sharing of that which we have received.
That message has helped our investigators be able to move forward and pursue what they know is true--but it has also helped me. Sometimes I am baffled by how lucky I am to have been born into such an incredible family, to have a knowledge of the Gospel, a testimony of the truthfulness of it, and the chance to be here as a missionary. I know that all that I have been blessed with was given to me for a reason. I am trying every day not to take it for granted. I want to be a light to others, and to help them "catch fire" as well. :)

I love you all so much! You are in my prayers! I hope you have a fantastic week!!

Love always,
Sister Emma Franks

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