Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Week for the Dogs

We were at the home of one of the families we teach, (grandmother, daughter, and her two little girls) and they told me their beloved dog, Aso (aso:dog), had been gone for three nights. The mom, Tiny, said that the neighbors ate it. Sister Cork made the mistake of laughing at this statement which I came to find out wasn't a was awkward. She told me that her dog was very delicious and desirable and she was not surprised to find out they had eaten their pet. She said if Aso hadn't of been such a cherished family pet she would have been honored to be the owner of such a yummy-tasting animal. I didn't really know how to respond and I just smiled and nodded.

- We had a zone conference this week and there was a workshop about being bold. My kasama may only weigh 68 lbs, but she sure does know how to be bold. She is a trip. Monday night we were teaching the Bilon family. They have five boys, the three youngest ones walk by themselves to church every Sunday, but the parents don't come. The conversation went something like this:
Sis. Plame: Why don't you come to church?
Sis. Bilon: We're just too busy on Sundays.
Sis. Plame: Doing what?
Sis. Bilon: I don't know, we're just busy. 
Sis. Plame: No, what exactly are you busy doing between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00?
Sis. Bilon: That's when we wash the family's clothes for the week.
Sis. Plame: Sounds great, Sister Cork and I will be here Friday night to wash your clothes, should we bring soap?
It was so funny, she agreed that if we helped her finish the chores she normally does on Sunday, she would come to church with her boys. Sister Plame means business.

- The Bilon boys are my favorite. There are five ages 24, 16, 14, 12, 10. The 16 y/o son has autism and is low-functioning, we read the picture scripture stories with him and he loves it. The youngest three have become my best buddies. Jonell, Joven, and Joppriel. Joppriel was baptized the week I got here. They sit with me during sacrament meeting and are insistent on teaching me Tagalog in exchange for little English lessons. Last week they showed up to church on Sunday with their dog, Chu-Chu. They arrived an hour early, so when we got to the church they were sitting inside with the dog! We told them Chu-Chu would have to stay outside. They laid out some Primary coloring sheets for him to look at while we were in church. They love basketball, especially the NBA. They each have a team: Chicago Bulls, Lakers, and Mavericks. They're so fun. I loved visiting their home each week.

The Philippines is great. Every day I go home exhausted, covered in dirt and usually bug bites, but I love it. This is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it is so so great. It's a hard thing to explain. The work is just so satisfying. Thank you for everyone who offers me so much support. I am so thankful for every bit of it.

All of my love,

Sister Cork
                        This is where our Bishop lives, it's considered a nicer part of the area.

                                    Tuesday's dinner! Balut: a fermented, aged duck embryo

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mahal Para Sa Philippines

Hey y'all! It feels like I haven't emailed in a month, yet it's only been ten days. This email is going to be pretty lengthy, sorry about that.

My last little while at the MTC was pretty hectic. The last few days I was there were really emotionally trying. Sister Fue's ten year old brother died on Tuesday after being hit by a truck. Sister Maualuga's father passed away from pneumonia on Friday morning. As sister training leader I had a lot of work to do. For most nights I just held girls, sitting on my bed as they sobbed until they fell asleep and I'd sleep on the floor. It was a week of puffy eyes, sore backs, and full hearts. It was hard to leave these girls on Wednesday. I've grown to love them so much. 

So, I've been assigned in the Fairview Zone. It's right in the middle of the city. Loud, dirty, noisy. I live in Samaka subdivision, we rent a free standing two-floor apartment from the landlords whose house connects to the front of our building. My trainer is Sister Plame, from Cavite. She is 4'6 and weighs 68 pounds. She is absolutely teeny-tiny. Because she is a native, it's hard to understand her. She talks so fast and quick. The Tagalog I learned in the MTC was very basic, formal, and slow. So, it's been extremely humbling. Each morning we wake up at 6:30, but I usually wake up before that because of several reasons: we have two cats that routinely get in horrible fights each morning, the coconut tree above our house drops coconuts on our thin metal roof all night long, the rooster farm down the street is always loud, loud, loud. So until I get used to all the noises, nights will be time to just think. Our windows have screens, but no glass. We have running water from 6AM-noon then for two hours at night. There is no toilet paper in the Philippines. So...yeah, that's been interesting and demanding of my creativity. The toilet has no seat or anything on it. My shower is a faucet and a blue bucket and the water is absolutely freezing. I don't know if I'll ever get used to that. But showers at the end of the day are my favorite. It's hard to describe the circumstances here. Most homes are made from cement bricks with cement or dirt floors. They're usually about six by six feet although sometimes smaller. Most families share a mattress and eat strictly rice. I can't describe the poverty. In the United States, we have no true understanding of what it means to be poor, none. People have so little, yet they thank God every day for their lives. Their faith is amazing and humbling to me. I have so much to learn.

A ten year old boy, Joppriel, was baptized on Saturday. It started about and hour and half late. I was assigned to give a talk on the Holy Ghost about ten minutes before it started, in Tagalog. It was...rough, but I did it. I also spoke in church on Sunday. The Lord is truly testing my faith in him when that happens. Tagalog is so hard. It takes all of my focus, patience, and determination. Most times I have no idea what's going on around me. I love the Philippines. I love Fairview already. The work is so challenging, but I love teaching people about the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It's amazing to watch them feel a kind of love they've never experience. Their lives are changing and I get to witness it. 

All of my love,

Sister Cork

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mormonism: A Christ-Centered Faith

This video gives a great explanation of what Lindsay is doing in the Philippines

Monday, February 10, 2014

Entering the Field

Hey guys,

Because I won't get another P-Day for a little while because I'll enter the field this week, I get ten minutes to email you today.

So this is how I'm feeling...
- Ready. There is such a huge adventure waiting for me right outside these gates. Sometimes it feels like I'm still in the United States because the MTC is like a bubble. I'm ready to experience my new home!
- Nervous. I've just gotten used to my room, my schedule, my companion and now it's all going to change. Ah! There are so many unknowns right now, it makes me a little crazy. I can't let myself dwell on it, Heavenly Father will guide me every step of the way.
- Excited. If the rest of the Filippino people are as great as the ones I've met here, I can't wait to meet and teach them. They are such genuinely good people. I want to know their names and their lives. I love them all so much already. I want to be a part of their lives.
- A little unsure. I don't know if I can last in this world! My Tagalog has only just started to grow and develop and they're just going to throw me right in! I have to rely on the Lord with all that I am right now. It's tough yet so rewarding. I'm so thankful for this opportunity to stretch and grow.

I love you all so much. I'm so thankful for all of the prayers and support that I've been given. I know that our Heavenly Father is truly mindful of the desires of our hearts. He has already helped me in this journey more than I could ever describe. Give Him your struggles, worries, and fears and he will show you matchless love and comfort.

Until next week,

Sister Lindsay Cork

Friday, February 7, 2014

Lahat Mahal Ko

 Kamusta from Manila!

This time next week I will be in the mission field. I can hardly believe it. Time has truly flown by.

This week was just another week at the MTC. Not too much to tell there. Same food, same schedule, and same people. I'll really miss my friends here, we've grown to be so close. I am so thankful for their testimonies, insights, and encouragment that they share with me daily.

The highlight of my week was going proselyting in inner city Manila. I wish I could describe it in a way that would truly do it justice. It's as if a city was built in the 70's & 80's and then just never renovated again. Every thing is old, broken down, cracked, and filthy. The entire city is covered in layers of dirt, grime, and pollution. It's wet and humid and there is trash and human waste covering most streets. The smell is strong. From the open air butcher, to the fresh mango stand, to the open sewers, to the jeepney exhaust. It all mixes together and lingers in the hot wet sunshine. The amount of people is amazing. Hundreds of people live in tiny apartment buildings that look as if they'll cave in at any moment. The space of the couch in my living room is the standard size of most homes I have visited. Every person we taught on Wednesday had baby. The first woman, Lynn had twin two year olds who pulled at my skirt the entire lesson. As we walked we came about Joyce, a young mother trying to quiet her three month old baby who was just screaming and screaming. We offered to sing to the baby and she invited us inside. She works six days a week and her boss allows her to keep the baby next to her in a carseat as long as he stays quiet. She fears that his crying could get her friend from the factory where she places rubber nipples on baby bottles. We sat in her little...well, I don't quite know what to call it. It's like four thin walls with a rug covering the doorway. It was about four feet by four feet with mats on a dirt floor. As we sang "I Need Thee Every Hour" the baby fell fast asleep. It was so sweet. I rocked the baby in a tiny hammock as we listened to her tell us about her life. The father of her baby, an American boy, sent money for her to have an abortion but instead she kept the baby and he devout religious family kicked her out. She told us through tears that she has been searching for a sign of God's love for her and she could finally feel it. The spirit was so strong in that tiny space as we prayed with her and asked Heavenly Father to guide her to make the right decisions. My confident companion, Sister Paasi asked her if she would follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized and she accepted right then and there. It was such a special experience. I know she and her sweet baby will be blessed endlessly for the choices she is making now.

Small miracles happen every day in this world. People commit small acts of kindness, speak words of encouragment to a stranger, or show their love for their families and loved ones. If we simply look we can see the hand of God in every nook and cranny of this beautiful earth. It's as simple as him sending an American girl, who is absolutely unconfident in her language skills and quite often herself, to the Philippines and trusting in her to teach his people about the gospel of his Beloved Son Jesus Christ. I am humbled each day as I am surrounded by intense poverty, yet while I teach these people I can see the light of Christ glowing from within them. I am so incredibly thankful for this opportunity. I cannot wait to be able to teach every day and be truly immersed in missionary work. Just wish me luck with my Tagalog, it's tough!

Lahat mahal ko, (All my love)

Sister Cork