As of now I am emailing you from the PHILIPPINES!!! Whaaaaaaat!
Every 6 weeks the elders in this mission have their p-day is on Wednesday, and I just happened arrived here on that Wednesday... :) WHY do they have p-day on Wednesday every 6 weeks? Because on that Wednesday they get to go the TEMPLE!!!! I GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE TODAY!!!!!!!!!
|Manila, Philippines Temple|
If nothing else good happens in the Philippines, I'm utterly delighted I got to go to this mission for the soul fact that I got to go to the temple. You have no idea how excited I was as I was in the changing room getting ready to go in for an endowment! And my expectations were more than fulfilled. Feeling the Spirit like crazy during the session! And the new movie was awesome! Really really enjoyed it. The only lame thing was no one stayed in the Celestial room! As soon as the endowment was finished everyone just left to go and get changed! Other than me and my companion, the Celestial room was essentially empty. All I could think was "How can these people leave this place so quickly?! Don't they want to stay here all day long?? This is AWESOME!"
My love for the temple was "meh" as a teenager, but I learned to love it a LOT more while under the pressures of college life, but on my mission I have gained a HUGE love and respect and appreciation for the house of the Lord.
My new companion is Elder Consego. He is a native Filipino, and a really great guy. He speaks... not so great English, and the fact that I am getting used to Philippine accent doesn't help. But, although I can't understand half of what he says, I can tell from his big smile that he is a really kind soul! :) My batch mate Elder Mangum is also in my ward and apartment, with an American companion named Elder Lovelo.
So far, I'd say the horror stories I've heard about the Philippines mission are false. This place seems grand! The missionaries actually seem more obedient than the missionaries in my mission, and I like the Filipino people. I'd say the city looks like a mix of a poor part of American, and a rich part of India. Some things I like more about this country than India, and then other times I wish I was back in my 2nd home (India)...
As I said before, I LOVE the fact that we have a temple near by.
Alas, Philippines seems to have just as many porn billboards as India... :P
People in Philippines dress very similar to Americans. As in, it's hot, so people like to wear... less clothing. I've never seen so many shirtless guys and short short wearing girls in my life!
I'm very excited that I get to serve in a functional ward! :D
I'm a little scared and excited to learn Tagalog.
The city is much cleaner than Indian cities!
The girls in Indian look like princess, and the girls here look like barbie dolls.
The traffic here is BLEH! I love Indian traffic because it is insane in a dangerous exciting way; Philippines traffic is insane just because it's constantly like bad traffic in America (stop and go all day).
I had a real life beef McDonald's burger!! :D
Also, something else really cool, we flew through the Hong Kong airport, so for a few hours I got to serve my mission in CHINA! My life dream for my mission = fulfilled.
Well I'm only been conscious in this country for about a day so that's all I have to say for now. We have a ward activity AND a ward coordination meeting tonight, both of which I am ecstatic to be having! :D
several days later:
Wow, I have so many observations to share... I'll see what I have time for this week!
First off, I have been AMAZED at how well the church runs here! Wow. Elder Mangum and I continually give each other stares of utter amazement as we see the church run... the way it's supposed to! Haha I've been so used to living in less-experienced branches of the church for so long that I had forgotten the church really is the same everywhere you go! Well, ALMOST everywhere... ^_^ Don't get me wrong, the craziness with the church in India cracks me up, but it's nice to be in a functional ward for a little while! Examples of what I'm talking about.
- This morning our Ward Mission Leader just called us to see how we're doing. Not to ask us something. Not to tell us to do something. Just to check in on us. What?!
- Or yesterday in Elder's Quorum they arranged a list for people to come on exchange with the elders each week, ALL BY THEMSELVES!
- Instead of the missionaries herding people to their classes, and then teaching that same class, people willingly went to their classes in church and then were taught by MEMBERS!
I'm also in a GREAT area! My companion and I were essentially white washed (he had only been here for 2 weeks with elder Loveland before they split it to make room for me and Elder Mangum), and yet we are still doing grand! As we counted our weekly numbers last night Elder Consego said "Oh, not very good numbers this week...", and I was just like "Not compared to my last area... the numbers we got this weeks SMOKE anything I've gotten for months!" It's nice to get to teach people!
I've been working on my Tagalog. When I first entered the Philippines I knew ZERO Tagalog words, and now I at least know some basic phrases! But, I've found I can communciate with people much better with my Indian English than with my Tagalog. And I can now understand my companion 80% of the time (when he is speaking English!) Good good!
There is saying in the Philippines: It's more fun in the Philippines! haha so far I might agree with that.
On average, the Philippines is much more like America than India is, and people are quite a bit more wealthy here than India (India has stunning poverty, where as the Philippines just looks like a poor part of the USA).
The only down side to the Philippines is the apartments for missionaries are junk compared to India's... For the first time in my life I HAND washed my clothes! It took 3 hours... oh, the blessings of a washing machine!
I really like my companion, Elder Consego. He is a great missionary, and a very nice guy. It's my pleasure to serve with him here in the Gwn T De Leon Ward!