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)