Monday, September 20, 2010

I get it.

Dear Mom & Dad,

I get it now.

This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and probably will ever do. Everyday is hard. Life here is hard.

Everywhere I go I get made fun of. People hear me talk and ask me if it's a joke and if I'm really Filipino. They call me a disgrace; a mockery of their heritage. They make fun of my accent and no one takes me seriously - not even people in church. People think I'm an idiot and for the first time in my life - I'm not among the best at what I'm doing. Every experience is humiliating. Everyone looks at me like I'm not human. Everything is against me.

And here I am thousands of miles away, with no one else but my companion.

But who am I to say this is tough, these people know what is tough.

I've been here for nearly five days and I still can't believe some of the experiences I've had. The United States is truly paradise and I've set foot in a land where being there is nothing but a hopeless dream. I get it now, thank you for raising me and working hard to get us there.

The way people live here is very humbling - let me just start from the beginning.

I left Provo on Tuesday and got here on Thursday around noon which is about 10:00pm Provo time. We arrived in our suits and it was like we got hit by a wave. The humidity here is nearly triple the humidity of Florida or Hawaii. It's hot, really hot. We were picked up and driven to the mission home where we met our president, the assistant to the president missionaries, and our trainers. To my surprise and out of sheer-dumb-luck, my trainer is from Vegas! He went to Western and his name is Elder Jennings. He is awesome and I'm learning so much from him and I love him to death because I know that he cares about me. He's been in the Philippines for six months and is a tall, huge, white guy so I always feel safe. He's got my back always and I know he does. Here they call your trainer your "tatay" or "dad" and they call you their "anak" or "kid." We were fed really quick, left our suits, and went straight to work.

My trainer and his previous companion have been doing work and they have been really busy. I feel so inadequate to be here and replacing his previous companion. Everyone looks at me and tells me it's a waste that he left and I'm here now but I just assure them that I'll do my best to help.

We got to the apartment first and I put my stuff down and we left. These were my words when we got to the apartment though:
You've got to be kidding me.

I purposely won't take pictures of it so that you won't see what we live in, but after seeing how other people live, I realized our apartment is five star. You walk in and have a small living room and "kitchen." There's a room to handwash your clothes in the back (since they don't have washing machines here) and a bathroom with a faucet and a small sink. There are no showers or water heaters but that's okay because it's really hot. Our mirror is a broken piece of a mirror that's about as big as my fist. The toilet doesn't flush and they don't use toilet paper here so you can imagine what you have to do. To flush the toilet you have to fill a bucket with water and put it in the toilet to flush. Our room has two beds and two desks. The place where I put my clothes is a two drawer, plastic dresser and I can't fit nearly anything in it. Nights are hard to sleep because it's so hot and we don't have airconditioning so I just put my fan at the head of my bed and hope for the best. With my luck our first night we had a "brown-out" or blackout and our fans stopped so I got a piece of paper and fanned myself til I fell asleep and continued to do that until the brown-out was over.

My first day here we had four appointments.

My second day here we had five appointments.

Saturday we had four appointments and two baptisms.

Sunday we had six hours of church, three appointments, and a dinner appointment.

Whenever I refer to an appointment, it's a teaching appointment that usually lasts up to twenty minutes because we're so busy. The members here are too poor to provide us with dinner appointments here so we don't get fed at night, but that's okay because we don't have the time. We barely ever have time to eat - it's become a burden here. We usually have dinner around 9:00pm and I'm really lucky because Elder Jennings loves to cook.

We walk everywhere and sometimes take jeepneys. The drivers here are crazy, you weren't kidding. This is how the road is: imagine a busy street like Charleston. Now take out all the stop signs, stop lights, road markings, and make the road curve a bit. Now triple the traffic, and add about 10-15 people crossing every 20 feet. If I had a dime for every near accident I've been in I'd be rich. I'll take a video so you can see.

When it's hard, I just remember what Elder Olson wrote down in my journal in the MTC:
This mission is going to try and test you, strengthen you up and rip you to shreds. Drive you to your knees in tears and grief, and then build you up again to become stronger than you could have dreamed for.

There are so many times I've gotten discouraged and wanted to just stop and cry, but I refuse to give up. I will do my best to press forward.

I'm out of time now but I'll email you of our investigators next week, one hour is not enough to cover all the experiences I've had here.

I love you all,