Let me begin this by being cheesy and telling you all that I'm emailing you all from 2015, while you are still in 2014. Thank you.
This week was absolutely nuts. Pday just so happened to be on Christmas Eve, which meant that grocery shopping was insane. We stood in the check out lines for over an hour just to buy our dang groceries. But we got home and started bumping the classic Christmas music. We had some Kenny G, and Amy Grant going and it just felt like home. we went and taught some lessons that night, and had some great members of the branch invite us over to have dinner with them and spend some time with their families for Christmas Eve. Ther are some really really great members in this branch who really love us. It was so fun to be able to join in their family celebrations and have them take such good care of us. For Christmas Eve, we decided to take all four of our mattresses and lay them under the tree. we all slept in the living room on our mattresses under the Christmas tree. And then at midnight, there were tons of fireworks that went off.
Thursday we woke up, i took a hot shower (I made the mistake of doin it once, and now if it is even kind of cold, i have to boil water hahaha. but it was a holiday!) I splurged and bought us each a big orange to have on Christmas morning, even though we didn't have stockings, it was still a fun tradition to continue, and they smelled and tasted so dang good. we had breakfast of fried rice and a banana shake to start the morning. then we all exchanged gifts, i got a pair of completely hideous pants that i will rock, and a carribou necklace. then we went and skyped. man, it was so good to skype. it felt so normal. Even though "i have an accent" and suddenly all my nephews are fluent in english, eeven though i'm not. it was so great. and then after we finished skyping, the Pacaldos fed us breakfast. We went back home, and went to he Andersons for our Christmas party. we eate sloppy joes and potato salad and it was the most delicious Christmas meal of my life. then it poured rain, which was the closest thing we could get to snow. haha. We went and visited some of the great people in our branch. We went to one family who i just adore, I'm really close with them. she does my laba for me, and i even call her lola (grandma). they don't have much. We went and she insisted on feeding us. we protested, but she wouldn't have it. i watched her as she took what little food they had, what i knew was going to be their dinner, and as she divided it ever so carefully between me and sister Villacorte. They took all they had and gave it to us. We protested again, insisting we were fine. And she looked at me sternly and told me that the blessings that she would recieve were much greater than the food she was giving us. And so with tears in my eyes, i sat down, thanked her profusely, and ate the Christmas dinner of spaghetti and macaroni salad. these people are the most amazing people i've ever met.
Friday we had the branch Christmas party, it was really fun, and we had a lot of investigators show up and love it! And our little recent convert who has a learning disability gave me a Christmas gift. He bought me a little plain white teacup and gave it to me all wrapped up with a note that said "from brother benitez" and it is one of my most cherished gifts. Also, just as a fun fact, as we were playing games, a giant cockroach flew into my head and hair and everyone freaked out hahaha. Just my luck.
saturday: i was dreaming that i was at home, and then sometimes life is just like a bad missionary movie. I rolled over a little too hard, and woke up clinging to my bed sheet for safety, i looked like Mufasa off of the lion king as he is about to fall off the cliff. Then my sheet came untucked and i fell flat on my back on the tile floor, knocking over the electric fan, and I looked at the clock as it was 6:27. welcome to missionary life.
Monday we had to pack another 72 hour kit for a storm that was heading thorugh. It poured rain and was so cold. we were all drenched from head to toe, we came home and put on anything we could and drank hot cider. We were beyond freezing. And then we realized it was only 82 degrees.
Tuesday" It was still rainy and cold so we wore sweaters all day long, and we had a banana tree fall on our house, no damage was done, and there were tons of bananas. So I picked one right off the tree haha.
Wednesday was New Years Eve, we were able to work until 5:00, and then we had to meet at the church. Everyone here has "fireworks" that are actually like miniture pipe bombs, so for safety we were all at the church and we got to hang out in our jeans and t shirts. The Andersons bought us all pizza, and we were able to watch How to Train your Dragon 2, and Planes 2. They were both really fun, and made me think of my boys. it was funny how awkward we were as missionaries watching cartoons kiss. we couldn't even handle it. also the andersons surprised me with a present. We were talking on christmas, and i told them that Christmas to me smelled like saurkraut because that's what we always have on Christmas for our German Dinner. They brought me a can of saurkraut they had at their house that they had bought for a pretty penny at an american grocery store. bless them. we went home at ten, and then all stayed up until midnight. Midnight was nuts. It was basically a war zone outside of our house. The tradition is that you go outside and are just LOUD. You just yell and hit pots and pans and scream. But it was really really fun. And then this morning was weird, because we were told that we could sleep in as late as we wanted. So i woke up at 8:00. it was a lovely little treat indeed. Finding somewhere to email today was incredibly hard, the whole city is shut down. Including all the restaraunts, and where we go grocery shopping. it's been a good week. And me, being the little nostalgic thing that i am, got to thinking a lot about the last year, and the year to come. I wrote down a few of my thoughts that i wanted to share.
i was thinking about 2014, and just how good 2014 really was to me, but it was also h a r d. 2014 was the year of the Philippines. My mission year. i remember last new years eve, talking and planning. i knew things would change, but i had no clue just hhow much. 2014 was the year i said goodbye to my family. The year i learned all about the refiners fire. the year i learned how to get down on my knees and really pray. it was the year i made it to this perfect tiny island, where not only did I find myself, I found my Savior Jesus Christ. It's where I've made some of the best friends i've ever known. It's where I finally figured out who i am, and how to be happy. it's the year i gave up a lot, and gained even more. It's the year i met some of the most amazing people in the world. It's where I've shed countless tears in bamboo huts singing I am a child of God by candlelight. It's the year I learned to love the Book of Mormon. The year I truly gained a testimony. The year I learned how to study. The yaer I learned all about how faith is power. It was a year filled with jeepneys, trikes, rice, coconut trees, sugarcane, bamboo huts, bukid, beaches, mangos, rain, lizards, and mud. It was a yaer filled with the most beautiful faces. it was my missionary year. It was the most amazing and beautiful year of my life.
2015 is bittersweet. 2015 is the yaer I go home, the year i see my family again. it's the year i say goodbye to the most wonderful place that i know. But i also decided that it's going to be the best year yet. It's the year i just hit it hard with missionary work. Where I don't have to think about it like i used to. i know how to do it now. So I can just run hard and leave it all on the field. i have seven months to give my very all. To give Him my best, because He deserves nothing less. And then I get to go home to my sweet, sweet, family and just...be home. i get to go home and apply all that i've learned, and change all that i want and need to change. It's scary, but it's going to be good. It's all going to be worth it. 2015 is going to be the best year yet, I just know it. I'm so grateful for 2014, for all i experienced, for the trials, and the tender mercies and the blessings, and the tears and the laughter. I'm so excited for what 2015 has in store. i love you all so much. happy new year.
Sister Carlee Beyer