I've sat here for five minutes trying to think of a good title to even begin to encompass this email. I guess we could call it simply Week One. This has been by far the craziest weeks of my life. I wish that I had the words to adequately express and explain what I've seen and done the last week. Words don't do it justice. Pictures don't even come close. It's been a whirlwind. I don't think you can ever prepare yourself for this. For a mission. And you especially can't prepare yourself for the poverty here. I looked at pictures, I read blogs, I talked to my MTC teachers, and I really thought that I had a pretty good preparation for it. I was wrong. So so wrong. You can never prepare yourself. I wish I could describe the humble, humble homes that I've sat it. I'll get to that later. I need to go in order, otherwise I'll forget.
Firstly, I ate my first mango. It was delicious. So juicy, and sweet and tender. As soon as I finished it, I promptly ate another. Food here is interesting for sure. For lunch one day we had rice, corn, chicken and ketchup. Just plain ketchup all mixed together. And I don't know if it's just because I'm so tired and hungry, but it was delicious. And we ate it again for dinner the other night.
Another thing about the Philippines is that everyone is always sitting in front of their house doing laba (laundry) and it's an all day event. So we'll usually sit down and talk to them about their lives and try to teach them and attempt to help them with laundry. Sometimes they let us sometimes they don't. So I just hand wash random strangers laundry all the time. Also, everyone showers outside. They'll just be wearing a thin shirt and then shower outside with their buckets of water, and we usually teach people then too. It's just the norm here.
Some wonderful tender mercies are that we found a seven eleven here, and they have SLURPEES. After a long day, we'll stop and get a Slurpee. #blessed. And they sell Pocari Sweat here! So I was beyond stoked. We had some fine dining and ate at the McDonalds here, but it's called MacDos. Alright, I'll be honest, it was beyond delicious. In the Philippines its actually like the nicest place to eat. You are living large if you eat at MacDos.
This part is for Brayden! I found a monkey! Probably the only monkey in Cebu, and for sure the only one in my area. Buddy, let me just tell you that I don't think I'm going to bring you home a monkey. I think we should rethink this plan. Monkeys are mean and scary. This monkey was set on attacking my face. It's chained up to a post, but it kept jumping and screaching at me. I took a picture for proof, but it's very scary and I never want to see that monkey again. It wanted my blood! So, I'll find something better for you buddy. But yes, I did find a monkey.
One thing I love about the Philippines and living in the city are that there are little bakeries on every corner. And they're freaking cheap and freaking good. Dad would love them. They have all these delicious fillings too. My favorite is the pan de coco. Think of almond joy filling, but made from fresh coconuts inside of a sweet roll. It's heavenly and my absolute favorite. They have all sorts of different fillings and flavors. They're the best.
Church was crazy. We have a chapel, which is so nice. And it's air conditioned. I don't know I've ever enjoyed sacrament meeting so much. They asked me to get up and bear my testimony in Cebuano. It was short and sweet, they all came up to me afterwards to talk to me. Everyone here is so sweet. But no one can say my name. Not one person here can say Beyer. It's always Bayer. During a meeting with the bishop he asked me probably seven times how to pronounce it, and still called me Bayer. There's a joke with my name too. "Palit" means "To buy" so sometimes they call me Sister Palit. It is apparently a hilarious joke in Cebuano because everyone always laughs over it. Sometimes I introduce myself as Sister Palit and they laugh. I'm trying to learn the humor here haha.
There are hundreds of kids everywhere. Hundreds. And they see us coming and always yell "MORMONS!" or "Sistairrs" try to sound that out, because that's how they say it. If the kids talk to me, I give them some stickers and they love them. They always try to practice their english and I practice my cebuano. It's a good trade.
I'm finding that I have a lot of comfort food here. When I'm tired or overwhelmed or discouraged I just walk to some street food and buy some because it's so cheap (no worries, i haven't bought any meat yet, I dont want to get sick!) we bought some ice cream the other day from a man on a trike. It was homemade ice cream and literally the weirdest flavor ever. It was mango, but it had a bunch of peanuts in it. So it was peanut butter mango. It wasn't that bad. It was cold, so I liked that. They also have these banana fritters of sorts. They slice up a banana, dip it in batter, and then deep fry it and roll in it sugar. It is literally heavenly.
One thing that is really hard and frustrating about our mission is that time doesn't exist to these people. You can set up appointments, and tell them that you are coming backand then you'll get there and they won't be there, or they'll tell you that they are too busy for you. It's called getting "punted". We get punted a lot. No matter how much you follow up and tell them when you're coming back, they never really follow through. Being punted is hard because they you get to tract a lot. We have tracted pretty much all day for the last two days. So as we were tracting in the intense heat, I was trying to listen to what my companion was saying to some people on the street. When suddenly, one of the freaking cock fighting roosters comes up to my leg and goes nuts on it. The freaking rooster pecked my leg so hard. I had a huge welt and everything. I was so mad. I hate the chickens here haha. That chicken better end up in adobo form on my plate with some rice. My companion and i laughed pretty hard about it. I wanted to drop kick that dang chicken.
Frozen is huge here. All the kids sing it all the time. They are always watching it, or singing it, or doing videoke to it. I kid you not, I probably can hear it somewhere 65% of the time I'm out walking about. Well there were these girls singing Let it Go, so as we were tracting, I was walking down an alley and started singing it too. They started laughing so I walked over to their house and started talking to them. We became friends and then I found out that Carmel, who is 14 went to Young Womens one time and loved it, but was too busy to go back. So we're going to teach her, and hopefully get her to go back to Young Womens and see if she wants to take the lessons. I'm really excited about that. So because of Frozen, we found a potential investigator!
(I feel like this email is really scatterbrained, I'm just writing off of the notes I take in my planner during the day) I told you that there are tons of kids here, they all play the same games all day long every day. Marbles, pogs, and basketball. Every single day for hours at a time. It's a simple life, and I love how much they love it. They're always outside and playing. As we were finishing up tracting one night, I walked past a little girl that was playing pogs by herself and I said hi to her. Then as we were walking I hear her running behind us yelling "AMIGA! AMIGA!" I looked back and realized that I had met her and gave her a sticker my first day here and she remembered me. Her name is Uni. We took a picture together and I gave her another sticker. It made my whole day.
There's one other lesson that we taught that really stood out to me this week. Her name is Lawrence. She lives with a less active friend. It was late and dark, and I had my tiny led flashlight I bought from the MTC on a whim. (Seriously that thing is my best purchace because we walk through pitch black alleys and you have to be careful where you step) we knocked on their door, and they let us in but they were really embarassed because their electricity had been shut off. They didn't have any money to pay for it, and they didn't have any flashlights or candles. we told them it was okay because we had my flashlight. We taught a lesson, sitting on a tiny bench in this tiny home that didn't have anything else in it other than one dresser by flashlight. We took turns passing it around to read from the book of mormon. There was something really special about the spirit in the room as we taught by flashlight. Lawrence has a son who is one year old, but he lives with someone else who takes care of him and she just works like crazy to send money back for him so he can have all he needs. This is really common here. We talked about the importance of the gospel in our lives. I was able to talk about how grateful I am to be raised in the gospel. I busted out a family picture that I always carry in my scriptures. I passed it around with the flashlight and talked about each member of my family, and how lucky I am that even though I miss them so much right now, that I get them for ETERNITY. I talked about how much it has influenced me to be raised in the gospel. It was such a neat lesson. As we walked home, I couldn't help but feel so incredibly grateful. In Utah, it's just kind of a granted, and I really take it for granted. But as I was walking around here, I just reallized how lucky and how incredibly blessed I am to be able to be born into the gospel. It's just always been there for me. It was absolutely a highlight of the week.
This week was crazy in the sense that it was graduation, so it's offically Summer here. Summer in Cebu City is nuts. Everyone just gathers outside until all hours of the nights and blasts their music so loud. Everyone is out cooking street food and dancing. It is an experience and a half, I really love it though. it's so much fun. I'm getting used to the heat, it's insane to wake up at and look at the thermometer and have it say 90 degrees. I have never in my life been more grateful for electric fans. Last night a crazy thing happened, it cooled down ever so slightly, and I actually had to put my sheet over my body for comfort. Yeah, we don't use blankets here. It's way too hot for that. My arms, neck and face have all gotten sunburned a few times. I don't know if I am getting tan, or just more burnt. But I got fried. So fried. And I have a name tag tan line! My name tag was positioned over my neck a little bit, so I have this nerdy missionary name tag tanline. I took a picture of it. It's quality for sure. Also, , I made friends with a baby goat. All the goats are scared of peopole, but this little goat just ran over to me and let me pet him. I may have picked him up for a picture, I don't touch animals here, but he just needed to be held. There is a "golf course" in our area. I took a picture to show Grandpa. But that's where all the goats live and run wild. It's nuts.
Lastly, I bought a two liter of Pocari Sweat last night, so all is well in the world. And I got to do laba for my own clothes for the first time today. It's an adventure here. I think I've mastered jeepneys. Street food and I are good friends. I'm getting used to cold water bucket showers, and at some point maybe I'll get used to laba. OH! We also have a pet in our apartment. I have lovingly named him Harold. He is an albino lizard that is always in our house. I found him the other day living in our dish rack where we dry our dishes, then he was on our fridge, and then he was in our bathroom. We're friends. He's a low maintenince pet.
Life is crazy here. I'm still in shock for sure. The one thing I've felt though is just so happy I'm not in the MTC. Don't get me wrong, the MTC is great, and I learned so much and met some of the best people I've ever met. Many of whom are now my best friends. But I'm just so glad to be out with real people in the real world. No matter how hard it is, no matter how often we get punted, or I'm tired, or sunburned or culture shocked or homesick, I'm just real glad I made it through the MTC. I won't be seeing any beaches at all this transfer, so maybe my motto now is JEEPNEYS AND MANGOS. And the temple, I love the temple here. Anyways, I gotta try to send some pictures. I love you so much.