My First Area Is SO GOOD!

so last i emailed we had just arrived at the Manila MTC! which was a reallly nice place. i liked it. but it was TINY compared to provo. less than 200 missionaries compared to 2000ish at provo. so definitely a different feel. but good nonetheless.
the day i emailed you, we went proselyting with missionaries in the Quezon City North mission (philippines mtc is really in quezon city right across the street from the temple). it was really cool! i rode for the first time in a jeepnee, which is a refurbished jeep left over from the war that they’ve converted into a bus type thing. they pack people on them like nobody’s business. i went with a missionary to an appointment. It was so unreal because we were in a neighborhood like in the movies. super poor. kids just in the streets. it was nuts. we went into a home to teach the people and it was just crazy to me to think that i was really in the Philippines! they had 3 dogs that kept trying to lick my feet and skirt, and a cat that just jumped up on the table part way through the lesson! it was a good lesson, however, the quezon city mission is tagolog speaking so i literally had NO IDEA what was going on. but the spirit was there and that’s what matters!
Sunday at the MTC was just a normal sunday! nothing too exciting. monday we had classes
Tuesday we went to Manila to get our Visas. it was really sad to drive around manila ( at least i think it was manila!) it was super poor, people in the street sleeping, kids that look like they had no parents, etc. really poor. worse than what i saw in guatemala (however we were in some of the better parts in guat). anyway. at the immigration office they took our pictures and our finger prints. that was it! on the way back to the mtc we went to the philippines/USA cemetary. it was really pretty, really cool. i will send pics. dad would have loved it and would have read every plaque 😉
We were supposed to leave the MTC at 4 am Wednesday morning. but we were woken up by a knock at the door at 2:20! it was the PRESIDENT of the mtc coming to tell us that our flight plans changed and we needed to leave ASAP. so in a fury the tacloban sisters got ready to go! we were supposed to travel to cebu with the cebu missionaries so when we found out that we were going before them it was really sad for all of us. really really sad. it was hard for me to leave them! we hugged each other and cried a little outside the bus, then went on our way. it was also sad because we didn’t get to say goodbye to the cebu elders. i was on the bus fighting tears because it was just rough to leave the people i had spent SO much time with, and because the mission was getting real. we got the airport and found out that more weird stuff happened and that our flight was delayed. i was in the airport, so mad. it was like 5 am and our flight wasn’t leaving until 9. some elders were totally rude to me and i about lost it when a senior missionary couple came up to us and said that they were going to tacloban too! it was a tender mercy to talk to them. they are serving in the self reliance center in tacloban. anyway. 2 hours later i heard someone say, “its the cebu missionaries!” i looked and sure enough here come our cebu missionaries! i ran to meet them and was SO happy. it was another tender mercy on a very emotional day. turns out, we were on the same flight and could have left the same time they did. HAHA.
we all flew to cebu. my seatmate was another missionary who poured out his whole life story to me on the 1.5 hr ride! at the cebu airport we had to really say goodbye to our cebu-ians, but it was ok that time! their mission president+wife was there, and a bus was there to take us to the ferry! the ferry ride was about 3 hours. there were seats and a movie playing. its like it wanted to be a plane. it was nice than i thought though! i just read my scriptures and the white handbook. the ferry went to Ormoc, a city 2.5 hrs from Tacloban. When we got off the ferry Pres. and Sister Maurer (pronounced more-a like in cumorah) were there and they put all of our luggage in a bunch of trucks and off we went to the mission home! i was so tired at this point. we had dinner and then slept at the tacloban area sister’s apartment. i just realized i need to hurry writing this and be less detailed!
thurday we had interview with the president and proselted to in the tacloban area. we had a testimony meeting that night. Friday morning was when we went to McArthur park and we got assigned our trainers and area! they had us all stand in a circle. they would call a missionary name, they would walk to the front, then they’d announce the area and trainer. the whole process was agonizing! i was the 2nd to last name to be called! but it is ok because there are tender mercies all around!
So my trainer is the sweet Sister Samayla (like smile-a kinda) she is Filipina and has been out for 15 months! i will kill her, meaning i’m her last companion. I LOVE HER. she is so great and so smart. she is native cebuano speaker so that is very helpful to me! and here’s what’s cool: she was companions with my friend sister estes! we are in the Sogod East area (pronounced so good!) and we are speaking Cebuano-J. let me talk about how BIG of a blessing that is. Lots of people were assigned to Waray speaking areas. Most were in fact. But i guess Heavenly Father knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it haha! I feel SO blessed to be speaking Cebuano. At least i have my MTC training to go off of. With Waray i only know like 6 words haha. Some people thing that Tagolog and Cebuano and Waray are just different dialects but they are TOTALLY different languages. so i feel very blessed to be speaking cebuano-j which is a dialect of cebuano. however its not too different from regular cebuano so that is good! i am so blessed. i am so grateful. grateful to the point that i cry when i think about it too much haha.
our apartment is totally fine mom! not ideal but its the philippines afterall! i am so fine with everything. we shower with the bucket and dipper. its fine though because the bathrooms are designed for it (drain in the floor, all tile) and the water is room temperature (not glacier water!) and so its quite refreshing.
how hot is it? SO HOT. but Sogod is cooler than tacloban because its off the ocean and less humid. plus it cools off at night a little. its REALLY hot but i am adjusting. i look sweaty/greasy all the time but there’s nothing to do about that! i am getting used to everything very easily.
warning to all bugs that enter our apartment: I will find you and i will kill you! we actually haven’t had that many thankfully. knock on wood. however, yesterday when i was thinking that to myself, a lizard (yes i know, not a bug) scurried across the ceiling. but he is scared of people so we usually don’t see him. but we named him Mushu obviously he needed a name.
we are whitewashing our area so that makes things kinda hard. they pulled the sisters out before us because they were always sick or something and didn’t get but done. apparently. that’s just what i heard. so we don’t have many people to teach right now. but we will find them!
i have loads more to say that i will skip because i’m running out of time. but yesterday i had to give a talk at church! talk about a welcome to the ward! i spoke on loving one another. it was about 75% cebuano and 25% english. not bad for a first time. then last night we taught 3 lessons! i can’t contribute much so i just bear my testimony.
i have to go. but bottomline i am doing GREAT. continue to pray for me and my health. i have been fine so far but it would be miserable to be sick here. THANK you for all the love and support! i will try to write more next week. LOVE TO ALL!!!!

love, jDSCN2858 DSCN2892 DSCN2900

Picture 1: With a Sister missionary friend that went to Cebu

Picture 2 and 3: Jen’s new apartment in the Sogod East area and the view out the back door


Coming at you live from the Manila MTC!


They’re letting us email so you know we’re alive!

We are at the Manila MTC right now. We’ll be here until Tuesday! The only reason why we are here is because lately its been hard to get Philippines visas. We have our temporary ones but we have to appear to get the permanent ones. I think that is why Allison had to go to Manila part way through her mission. If we do it now, then we won’t have to do that! So that is our only purpose for being here at the MTC. They told us they will just fill our time with other things like language study, normal MTC stuff, etc. P.S. We’re 14 hrs ahead of MST. Its just after 11am on Saturday!!!

First I’ll talk about flights! I literally thought that i might die because we flew SO MUCH! But it was fine. I didn’t sleep the night before (since we left provo at 3am) and so i slept on and off on every flight.

Our first flight to Portland was grand. and short! Then our layover was forever long! But it was good to talk to you Mom and Dad!! Sister Malu and I went to get “our last american meal” after I talked on the phone. We got hamburgers and fries and milkshakes. It was SOOOOO good. Then we hopped on our 11 hr flight to Tokyo! I had the window seat #tendermercy and they fed us two meals. Since i know you will want to know (mom!) the first meal was dinner: chicken breast, supposedly cheesy mashed potatoes (not realy cheesy haha) with mixed vegetables, a roll with cheese (probs the last real cheese i’ll have in a while!), and a little brownie thing. BASTA (Anyway), the other “meal” was a croissant sandwich with a yogurt and a kitkat (random). We got to Tokyo at like 4:45ish. The airport was classy. And there were a TON of fantastic stores that we drooled over i.e. chanel and celine, and others! Anyway, we were excited to use the bathrooms because i heard that they were like the ones in cars 2. they’re cool, but not that cool. Each stall has a special feature. the one i was in had like a baby holder/car seat thing attached to the wall. TMI? haha i though it was funny.

They we had the flight to Manila that was about 5 hrs. It was good, they fed us again. When we got to Manila is was 10:30 local time and by the time we went through customs it was almost midnight! Church people picked us up and we rode a bus to the manila MTC! It’s small here, but nice. And its crazy humid, of course. But its overcast so no sun to worry about so far! I AM LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF THIS! I’m just soaking it all up. Today we go on splits with the Manila missionaries to go street contacting! since we’re in Manila (tagolog speaking mostly) my cebuano skills probs won’t come into play so much, but we shall see! i’m excited!

We get to email again on Tuesday (the day before we leave for the field!)

I’m doing great and love you all! sidenote: My hair is looking fantastically waving. loving it!!!

love you all,

Where did the time go? Last Provo MTC email!

But REALLY. time is flying by. this week went soooooooo fast! i don’t even know what happened.

We leave on THURSDAY! we are supposed to be at the travel office at 3:35am. so that’s a party!
for some reason unbeknownst to me, i am the travel leader for the tacloban missionaries. what!? i guess its good since i’ve had plenty of airport experience and have flown internationally before. some of these missionaries have never been on a plane before… so i’m not even kidding when i say pray for me while we’re traveling because i’m in charge of a bunch of people (mostly crazy elders)! and one of them asked me if I could delay our flight to manila so that we can go shopping tokyo aaaaand that’s why i’m worried haha! but really i’m not worried, it will all be fine! its going to be a intense couple days of traveling though!
this week was awesome! our district is finishing out strong.
  • general conference was awesome. can i get an amen? i was secretly hoping they’d announce something awesome. like.. oh i don’t know, a temple in tacloban? k fine, i know i know. and speaking in native languages? talk about a prophecy being fulfilled once again that people will hear the word in their own tongue! my favorite talks were Elder Jorg Klebingat because he talked about having a good diet! and it was awesome in general. super bold- i loved it! i also loved Elder Holland’s talk. i may have shed a tear. it was cool because all of the missionaries watched general conference together. and i’d just like to say that i’ve stepped up my game and didn’t even close my eyes ONCE. be proud mom, be very proud.
  • we watched the general women’s meeting while the elders watched priesthood. i loved that meeting too!
  • also did you notice that in one of the prayers the families of missionaries were specifically blessed? SO COOL
  • this week was pretty normal, nothing extraordinary. PSYCH. let’s talk about the day we got donuts. Oh my gosh Mom and Dad you literally made the day the best day ever! i told my district how i asked you for donuts, so everyone has been waiting. i almost cried when i saw them. really though. i wish i could send pics but this computer won’t let me! so thank you mom and dad! my whole district loves you haha so do i! thank you thank you thank you!
  • also the coconut! thanks mom. the islanders in my district got so excited and LOVED IT! apparently they eat the whole thing, and not just the white part. i showed sister taungea the juice you sent and she told me not to drink it! i asked her why and she said, “for tomorrow we die!” haha it was SO FUNNY that girl is hilarious. but we ended up not drinking it because they used it medicinally in the islands (i got the feeling that it clears ya out..if you catch my drift). she said that they drink the milk/juice/water from the green coconuts. i’m sure i’ll be learning in the philippines!
  • i learned more about tacloban this week! most of the cebuano teachers at the MTC served in cebu, but i ran into one yesterday who served in tacloban so obviously i got the deets on EVERYTHING! i always knew that i would most likely be learning another language once i got there, called waray-waray. but what i didn’t know is that about 70% of the tacloban mission is waray speaking and only 30% is cebuano. i just have this feeling that my first area will be waray and all the cebuano i know from the MTC will be unapplicable! until i am in a cebuano area. so we shall see, we shall see!
  • we had in field orientation meeting yesterday. i promise you that it sounds much more interesting than it actually is! i was expecting/hoping to be taught survival tips or something awesome like that! haha jk. but it actually was just a whole day meeting (from 8am-5pm) about how to plan, work with members to do the work, etc. obviously i was reaching a little too high when i thought we’d be tying knots staring fires hahahaha. but it was good. guess who is in charge of it? yep, brother macfarlane my old seminary teacher hahaha funny.
  • random thought: how many miles is it to tacloban??? i’m just thinking in terms of skymiles hahaha
there are a lot of other things that happened this week that i’m sure i’m not thinking of! its been a good week though. and a good experience at the MTC! i don’t know why people talk about the MTC like its a miserable place…i have loved it! i have been really blessed to have a really great district that gets along, and incredible teachers. i feel very blessed. the philippines will be a wonderful, new adventure. a part of me doesn’t want to leave the MTC because its become comfortable! but there is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone! i am very nervous, but yet even more excited to be heading to tacloban. I KNOW that there are specific people there that i’m supposed to find and teach the gospel to. and man oh man am I grateful that i’ll have the spirit to guide me to those people! i LOVE this gospel!
love you all! next time i email, it will be from the philippines!!
love, j

Today is my month mark!

i’ve been here for a month SAY WHAT!
FUN FACT: there are no C’s in the Cebuano language….confusing right? the language is really called visaya
We got our travel plans today! sorry i don’t have the info in front of me. more deets to come. here’s what i know though: we fly out on delta on a 8ish o’clock flight October 16th to portland, then to tokyo (i’m so stoked for the bathrooms, i’ve heard they are like in cars 2 haha) and then to Manila! apparently we will stay at the manila M

TC for a few days before going to our missions. i’ll keep you posted!
so a lot went down this week! mostly i just realized how soon we leave and it kinda freaked me out!
this week:
  • my cold is finally gone!!!! its taken all this time. i was on the up and up and then randomly on saturday it was like it started to come back again. but all is well now!
  • I woke up one day thinking i had pink eye! so i wore my glasses (see the pic i will send) and everyone told me how intellectual i looked. HAHA funny.
  • Sunday i let our district in an hour long discussion about the BOM. it was way cool
  • Sunday night devotional was given by Stephen B. Allen. Mom, does Grandpa know him? i was just curious because he is in charge of the missionary dept. anyway, random. it was a way good devotional!
  • since we are leaving soon, i have realized how sad i will be to say goodbye to the cebu and cebu east missionaries. we have bonded hard core. one in particular, sister lefler, i was friends with instantly. it was way weird because we both thought the other looked familiar when we first met. but we don’t know each other, so obviously we make saturday’s warrior jokes about how we met in the pre existence haha!
  • something i observed this week: the people who are going to tacloban are seemingly resilient people (excluding me haha). i was trying to figure out the trend between those going to tacloban and those going to cebu. the people who are going to tacloban are people, who based on my knowledge and observation have gone through a heck of a lot to be, and some who have really hard backgrounds. LOTS of polys are going to tacloban. not a ton of white people. not to say that cebu people haven’t gone through a lot. just an observation i’ve made, hope it doesn’t come across wrong.
  • mom, its weird to think that i am w/in a mile of you everyday, yet i’m so far away!
  • so this week we got to host the new missionaries! 526 arrived this wednesday. its the last big batch of the season. i got to host 2 sisters: one going to portugal, one going to africa. CRAZY. not gonna lie, it was rough seeing all those families saying goodbye. but it was good for me to be able to reassure them that all would be well! and yeah, saw bro holyoak! super cool! funny thing about hosting: some elders in our district tried to spread a rumor to the new missionaries that there would be an MTC dance on Saturday! bahahah so funny.
  • funny thing: on fast sunday it was so depressing to have to study during mealtime instead of eating that we ended up playing a game where we guessed what everyone’s parents’ names were. haha. so now everytime i mention something about you mom our whole district says, “oh, karen! we love her” hahahahahha
  • so this week has been a little chilly. and last sunday there was snow on the mountain that all the islanders/polys freaked out about when we were on our temple walk! some people in our district told them that if it snows, they better be careful because they could get frostbite. one kid asked how, and someone told him to beware of the snowcrabs. hahahahhaah our district is so hilarious.
  • so sleeping at the mtc. is a dream come true because i’m getting TWICE as much sleep as usual 4-5hrs vs. 8hrs. i have, however, lost my talent of falling asleep within 2 minutes. but that is ok because i’m well rested for the first time in my life haha
  • funny thing: the islanders/Polynesians found out that my name is jennifer. so now they yell “jennifer lopez” at me and our district leader corrects them haha. also, one elder in our district is from tonga with a super thick accent. he always yells pokemon randomly and it is SO funny.
  • another random thing: mom and dad do we know of any breretons that are on a mission? a couple. apparently they were at the mtc last week. i just heard about it. also, there is a peter burgoyne here, going to russia. any relation?
  • another funny thing: at the end of one class our district leader asked me to say the prayer. but it was awesome: “sister brereton, will you offer the prayer-aton” SO FUNNY. i’d never heard that one before! now we joke that i will become a televangelist with my show being called prayeraton with brereton hahaha
  • mom will you send me the pic of me with david archuleta? filipinos love him so i want to take it with me. have lauren get it off my facebook or something. thanks
  • ok sister t’s bday. MOM THANK YOU for sending that stuff. and the pictures. she LOVED it all. i am so grateful we got to throw a little party for her. thanks so much mom!
  • we got to skype with a lady in tacloban last night for TRC! it was way cool! except she kept speaking back to us in english because she served her mission at temple square. but a way cool expericence and maybe i’ll run into her someday!
  • ok final thought before i run out of time. The spirit definitely speaks to me in a much more distinctive way as a missionary. several instances have taught me that, but one in particular was very cool. There is another sister going to the philppines (or the ‘ppines as we call it these days) but not in our mission. sister taungea is friends with her, so naturally so am i! she has been having a hard time with the american food here. so here is my story: yesterday we were sitting our classroom when sister t told me she needed to go to the bathroom. off we went and i was waiting for her to go into the bathroom but someone started talking to her and i just waited by the bathroom. meanwhile, this other sister from kiribati, sister bwebwetaaki (bey-bey-talk-e) stumbles over the bathroom, clutching her stomach. i told her to go in because my companion wasn’t inside (sidenote: the bathroom is a one person bathroom). a few min later my companion comes over to the bathroom and i told her what just happened. sister B came out a minute later crying, and sister T grabbed her around the stomach, trying to help her relieve the pain (some kiribati thing).  i didn’t know what to do, but thankfully a teacher came over a minute later and took her to the health clinic. after all of this was over, my companion looked at me and said, “aren’t you going to go to the bathroom now?” i looked at her and said, “no…i thought you needed to go.” She looked at me weird and said she didn’t but that she remembered me asking if we could go. but i remember her asking to go. we had a little teary eyed moment when we realized that we just needed to be there to help sister bwebwetaaki. i know that it was the spirit that made it so we would be in the right place at the right time! i’m thankful for the holy ghost and the promptings it gives to me as a missionary! it is only because of the spirit that missionaries are able to be effective.
i am so grateful to be on a mission! sometimes i can’t believe that i’m actually doing the thing that i’ve been planning to do for SO LONG. i’m grateful for the gospel and that i get to spread the good news to the people of the Philippines in just 2 weeks!
love you all!
love, j