It’s only been the 4th day here but I am already loving it! I am working so hard and really giving it my all, and there is so much satisfaction that comes from that.
So the first day here I met my companion Sister Pilimai, who is Samoan and from Hawaii, I can tell she has a big, open heart and that we will get along really well. She is pretty relaxed, but she works hard too and really wants to be here. I also ended up with another companion Sister Sutherby, so we are now a trio! We have two other sisters in our district, Sister Peet and Sister Kataniburi. Sister K is from Quetebes and she doesn’t speak very much English but she has a really sweet spirit and a strong testimony.
The first day was not a slow start, we got all of our supplies, they had it laid out all over the MTC campus so we followed the little signs around to get our study materials and then head back to our rooms to put our stuff down.
Then we were off to class! Immediately when we got to class, the teacher starts talking in Tagalog only, and we are told to do an orientation on the computers. And then we learned the basic introductions in Tagalog. Just like how are you(Cumusta po kayo?) and Where are you from? so we could start basic conversations. Every day will pretty much be the same here. We study for a few hours in the morning, eat lunch, then go to class for about 3-4 hours. All of our language instruction is focused around the Gospel. We have already taught our first lessons!
And we had our first district meeting too! Our President and his wife are awesome people. You walk in here and you already know you are loved and cared for and there are people who have been praying for you to be here for a long time already. On the first day, President Howard and Sister Howard came to meet us. I liked President but I really love Sister Howard. She immediately gave us all really big warm hugs(I love warm hugs!) and since it was our first night there, I started to tear up knowing there was going to be this missionary mom here who already loves us so much. She is really funny and pretty sassy, she made a few jokes with us right away.
The first night it was hard to fall asleep right away and we had set up this ticking alarm clock that was so awful. After about 15 or 20 minutes, I whispered out to everyone IS that bothering anyone else? And they all were like YES! So we threw it against the wall and it broke so we didn’t have to hear it anymore. JK. Joke lan! We did stop it though and finally got to sleep. The second day we were all so tired but we got straight down to business and woke up, went to study and then to class where we started learning how to pray and to bear testimony to teach our first lesson. They told us that we would be teaching our first lesson the very next day.
That night we also met for a district meeting to decide leadership and also to introduce ourselves to the Bishop and his wife and to get to know President and Sister Howard better. All of us went around introducing ourselves and we got to know each other a little more personally and also we were able to hear about each of our testimonies. Sister Peet went first and talked about how all 7 members of her family have served missions! Which is super awesome. She shared about how she felt prompted to serve a mission when she went through the temple in April. I asked her more about this on a walk yesterday and she told me about how absolutely wonderful she felt after going through the temple and just knew she wanted to help other people come to the temple too. I feel a strong connection with her because we have both graduated already and she has a very sweet outlook, you really want to hug her right away because she is very warm.
The other sisters each took turns after sharing about themselves and sharing their testimony. It was wonderful to hear how strongly they each felt about the Gospel, and I have gained a deep love for the four other sisters in my district already. I was the last one to go, and I spoke about my Filipino heritage and the rest of my family too, I bore my testimony that this is the time appointed by the Lord for me to serve a mission and that I know without any doubt this is where I am meant to be right now.
Every day, I feel this even stronger and I am not even in the field yet. When I spoke about how I would get to give back to the people and place where I came from, I got really emotional, and every time I think of the Filipinos I am going to be meeting, I get a really tender feeling in my heart as I already feel so much love for them.
After we had introductions we were each called individually to be interviewed by Bishop Christoffersen to figure out who was called to be the Sister Training Leader(which is like District Leader). One by one we went to talk to him. It sounds weird but I had a feeling I was going to be called all day, but I felt nervous because I felt chastened and regretful that I had not been preparing more fully to serve as a leader and felt that the opportunity might be taken away from me. I knew that whether I was called or not didn’t really matter because this was a lesson for me in preparation and opportunities.
I have a testimony of that now, how important it is to be prepared for the opportunities that come your way because the same point and the same opportunity will never really present itself again. If you aren’t ready to accept it, then you might miss out on something that could lead to greater growth. Well despite all this and my lack of preparation and general laziness in the last month, I was called to be the Sister Training Leader, and I am really happy and excited because I know this is an opportunity for me to learn greater love for these wonderful sisters. I am really trying hard to lead by example, though my siblings might disagree, I don’t really like to be bossy or be telling the sisters what to do, but I do want to create a culture of hard work and encouragement. I feel humbled and chastened in this opportunity and my feelings about not using my time better at home are motivating me to work super EXTRA hard here and to really get the very most out of my time here.
Besides that, we also taught our first lesson in Taglish. Our goals were to be able to bear testimony and pray in Tagalog. I did a lot of the talking in the lesson because the two other sisters in my trio had spent some time in the hospital for Sister Sutherby’s stomach issues and they kept looking over at me to speak. It was difficult to understand our investigator sometimes but we just bore simple testimony over and over and read a few scriptures. It was pretty short but she did agree to pray and to come to church with us this week. We also set up a return appointment to come back on Monday at 6 so that is the next time we will be going to teach here. It is amazing to me how fast we are all learning the language and how every day we pray multiple times for the gift of tongues. It is a real thing. As we relied on the spirit in our lesson, we were each able to say simply that we believe in a loving God and a living Christ. I love praying in Tagalog. Every time I do, my heart is filled with so much love knowing this is the language of the people I will be teaching. I am excited to keep teaching our investigator Leila, and I hope she will find faith in God and in Christ because she has no religious background or belief but she is interested and receptive to us.
Later today we will be going to the temple and I think this will bring me more energy to do the work than all of my hours of sleep put together. One of the sisters, Sister K is going through for the first time and we are all so happy for this special opportunity.
Alam ko po na mapagmahal po ang Ating Ama Sa Langit.
Alam ko po na buhay po si Jesucristo.
Tell me how are things! I love getting letters through Dear Elder it is very encouraging. Hope all of you are well and update me when you can.
Sister Marissa McLean