Emilee didn't have time to write this week, so getting this letter in the mail was so LUCKY for us :-)
As I am sending you my completed SD card, I thought I might send you a letter too. I actually have made a goal to write home (hand written letters) more often; We’ll see how well I keep it, huh?
As I thought about what I wanted to write in this letter, I decided the best option/idea was to answer questions that I’d imagine you’d be asking me if we were face to face.
I’ll do my best to pretend that you really are asking, and that way I’ll answer things I’m sure you are wondering.
First. What is my Mission President like? My old and new Presidents are complete opposites. But, I have loved them both equally and as if they were my Mission Parents. President Mangum is a very elequant spokesman. He went from being a plumber to a C.E.O. without any college experience. Haha my first mission interview with him felt like a job application interview- which in a way it kind of was, except that I’m already hired. :-) He has a very kind and loving heart and a desire to really know us individually. His trademark is winking and he often gets weepy. He loves quotes and has a humble teaching method. Sometimes I can’t help but feel that we are running plays for an upcoming game because of the way he taches us. Haha, all in all I’m very happy that he is my Mission President and I have already seen evidence that he was divinely designed for the calling.
My favorite thing about the Philippines? I’am going to cover the actual Philippines people later. So, other than them it would be the beauty! Though my mission has been a lot of city, ther are always Jungle trees and wildlife around. I have seen places that I literally didn’t think were real and if I closed my eyes, it would all disappear.
My favorite thing about the culture? The strong sense of family. Family is the most important thing here in the Philippines. The families here are so close and supportive. They don’t move out of their parents home until “they have more kids than siblings” as I like to say.
The strangest thing I’ve seen? They sell a lot of fresh meat in the streets around here. One day, just a block from our apartment all the neighbors started cheering we heard a pig squealing frantically. Suddenly, it stopped we went out to look. All the neighbors were circled around one butcher as he started skinning this pig. It was so weird! And there was a dead pig head and blood in the street for days after. So weird!
The experience on the mission that changed me the most? I really think I was changed most when the typhoon hit. At first it was all fun and games, but when I realized that people were loosing their homes, and especially as I spent almost a week helping them to recover belongings, or get water and food - I realized that this all was real. I am a missionary. It isn’t a game. These are real souls who need Jesus Christ.
My favorite Filippino dish? I love Adobo and Sinigang. These are amazing dishes! I also love Shanghai rolls (but, I can’t eat them now) boiled banana, and halo-hala. I can’t wait to come home and make these for you!
What is my best memory so far? Before my mission I would have thought my best memory would be baptisms. While these are wonderful, I actually cherish more the moments when people tell us they really know it’s true. You feel God’s love for them burn within you as you both cry for joy. These are the happiest moments of my life!
Is missionary work hard? Yes! But, the harder you work, the easier it is. I never regret a moment of struggle or hardship because I know these have been my greatest learning experiences. I have felt God’s love and the grace of Christ more in those moments than any other time in my life.
Do I miss you? Of course! I don’t go a day without thinking about you. As my previous Mission President said, “I’ve been in the field 3 years now and I’m still homesick”. I miss you and love you, but, I am happy to be here and that “missing you” never makes it hard to work. If anything, I want to work harder! When I was in the MTC I heard this quote, “everyday your in the field, You’ll think of home and everyday your home, you’ll think of your mission.” I want every moment of my mission to make a difference. I want to leave a mission that I can be proud of, one that is acceptable to the Lord.
Well today is P-day and I am excited to read your emails and hear from you. I love you with all my heart, till we meet again.