Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Livin on a Prayer

The.  Madness.  My beloved's.  Today is my official nine month mark as a missionary.  Which means that I'm halfway.  I've been trying to wrap my mind around it all week long.  It feels impossible that I'm actually here, that I'm actually a missionary.  Growing up, missionaries were always those superheros.  They were those "big kids" who had it all figured out and were so smart and they just went out and saved the world.  Even though I've been on a mission for a good amount of time now, I still wake up sometimes completely in awe that I'm on a mission.  That I'm a real life missionary.  And I'm serving here in the Philippines.  It's a completely bitter sweet feeling to hit 9 months.  It's a very accomplishing feeling, but it's also scary.  It's crazy to think that I'm half way done.  Have I done what I needed to do?  What I was supposed to do?  Could I have done it better?  If I could go back, I would do it all so differently.  I would start over from day one and do it all so differently.  But I think we all would.  That's the beauty of hindsight haha.  But, even though we can't go back, we can change and be better now.  So that's what I plan to do with the next half of my mission.  :)
So last wednesday was Pintaflores.  It was madness.  After we emailed, the whole city was shut down to watch the parade.  The roads were all closed and everyone in the city came out to watch the parade.  We needed to walk to the other side of the city to meet up with the Andersons.  It was the craziest thing in the world to walk down the street, with hundreds of Filipinos on both side and just hear them say to each other in hushed tones "Americana"  or "Taas Ilong" which means, tall nose.  Sister Villacorte just laughed and laughed.  I am the only American in all of San Carlos other than the Andersons haha.  And I stand out like no other!  The parade was really cool.  It was all native dancers.  They were dressed up to the nines and had some awesome native dances.  It was really fun to just relax and watch.  After the parade we went down to the farmers market/fair thingy.  It was oddly like home, but with a Filipina twist.  We bought lunch at the fair.  We had a mango shake, and a piece of fried chicken I bought from a man off the street for ten pesos, and a scoop of rice.  They served it to me on a banana leaf and I had to eat it with my hands.  And it was completely delicious.  Somehow, rice just tastes better when you eat it with your hands.  We wandered around the fair, and found some really awesome things to buy.  And we took some pictures in a photo booth, it was really fun.  And it was nice to just see normal life, and be a part of it.  
Thursday:  Not a lot happened.  A big thing to do here in the Philippines is to match.  If you can match in any way shape or form, you do it.  It's adorable haha.  So Sister Villacorte went through my clothes to see what she had that was similar to hers, and then we went to our Zone Training Meeting in matching clothes.  Zone Training Meeting was really great.  We learned about the doctrine of foreordination.  Also, I don't think I've ever talked about how here in the Philippines, everyone just calls us "Sis".  It's the cutest thing in the world, if a member is close with us, or an investigator, they will just lovingly call us "sis".  It isn't casual or disrespectful, it is just so loving and probably one of my favorite things.  It also makes me think of Tina, which I of course love.  
Friday:  Everyone here always wants to guess where I'm from.  Everyone always asks where I'm from and I tell them America.  Then they ask me if I'm a "pure American".  It's kind of hard to explain that there isn't a real thing, because everyone came to America as immigrants at one point or another haha.  But the new thing here is that everyone has been guessing of the bat that I'm from Germany because apparently I don't look American.  I look very German.  I think it's just because I have brown hair and brown eyes.  If i was blonde haired and blue eyed they would think that.  But I always laugh, and tell them my Grandpa was born in Germany and that they are exactly right.  That night we had dinner with the Andersons to celebrate Sister Villacorte and Sister Minguez's birthday.  It was great to have some good home cooked American food and to catch up with the Andersons.  I kind of feel like they are just my adopted parents here.  If I have a question, I ask them.  If I am unsure about something, I ask them.  It's the best.  And, they give the best hugs ever.
Saturday:  I was cooking lunch, because somehow I have become the chef in the house!  And I realized how badly I long for a turkey sandwich and a dr pepper.  Alas, one day haha.  Sister Villacorte was looking through my pictures, and saw that there was snow, but it was sunny.  We had a really long conversation where I tried to explain to her that even though there was sun, it wasn't hot, it was cold.  She couldn't fathom the fact of sun not being hot.  And I don't blame her for that!  We always learn so much from each other haha.  
Sunday:  It was my one year mark since I was able to go through the temple for the first time.  The time just flies.  We had a brown out all day on Sunday, and our bathroom is in the back corner of the house with no windows, so it was pitch black.  So I decided to light some candles so I could see!  I had a lovely candle lit shower and the crack of dawn.  All the sisters made fun of me, they just showered in the dark!  We had a really cool investigator come to church named Renante.  He met me and Sister Bateman.  He called out to us and asked us if we were missionaries.  He told us that he was a Bible Baptist Missionary before, and I thought he was going to try to bible bash with us, but he was actually really nice.  Then when we were teaching one of his neighbors, he saw us walk by and joined in the lesson and then he came to church.  He is full of questions.  He threw all the hard questions at me, but he is willing to learn and he liked church a lot.  
Monday:  I woke up from a dream, that was in straight Visaya! We had some sisters staying at our house, so we had six of us that needed to shower in one shower before 8 in the morning.  Well, one of the sisters started to take a little too long, and we were going to run out of time.  So we took matters into our own hands and set up a little shower out back on our patio.  It was totally covered and blocked off, but I ended up having to shower outside. So that was exciting. It was kind of like a Japanese onsen all over again! We had a really good district meeting, and then we had a CSP where we just cleared a huge lot of land for a member in our ward.  
Tuesday:  Not a ton happened.  We taught Charlyn and she is doing well.  Oh!  We were driving down the highway, and I was sitting in the back of a trike when heavens only knows how, I look up to see the phone fall out of my bag and bounce down the highway. I just yelled "BROTHER! Turn around!"  I was so scared to see our poor little phone after it had bounced down the highway.  I ran out into the road to grab it, and our little nokia brick, you know, from like 1999 didn't have a single scratch.  That thing is indestructable!  
So now my friends, I would like to quote my dear long lost friend Bon Jovi...
"Whoa, we're half way there, whoa, livin on a prayer, take my hand and we'll make it I swear it.  Whoa, living on a prayer".
We are indeed halfway there.  Which is utter madness.  And as I've been thinking about it, and humming that song a little bit, I've realized how much I truly have been living on a prayer.  
I studied a great talk by Richard G Scott called "Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer".  Some thoughts that I really loved from it go as follows.  He is God.  And he has not only asked us, or invited  us, but commanded us to pray.  To Him.  Us, mere mortals, simple imperfect humans, can pray to Him and any time and He will listen. And He will answer.  And what's more, He asks us to call him Father.  Do we really realize how tender that truly is?  
There was a quote that says "Don't worry about your clumsily expressed feelings.  Just talk to your compassionate understanding father.  You are His precious child whom he loves perfectly and wants to help. As you pray, recognize that He is near and He is listening".  That's one thing I learned so much on my mission.  I can clumsily pray in visaya, especially at first, I just pieced words together, but I was able to feel peace and comfort as I imperfectly pieced sentences together.  
There was another quote that talked about how we need to be grateful that sometimes God lets us struggle for a long time before the answer comes.  Because our character will grow, and our faith will increase.  There is a realtionship between those two.  The greater our faith, the stronger our character.  The stronger our character, and increased character enhances our ability to exercise even greater faith.
I love D&C 45:3-5.  It's such a sweet reminder about our prayers.  Never lose sight of our advocate and reedemer as you walk after Him.  One imperfect step after another.  
I remembe rthinking that I was burdening God with my prayers.  Surely there wer people who needed Him more than I needed him.  And then I got on my mission.  I remember that first night in the MTC hitting me like a ton of bricks.  I was ALONE.  Where was my family?  Where were my friends?   I was alone with a bunch of strangers with no one to talk to, and I would be alone for a very long time.  I just cried and cried that first night.  And then I realized I did have someone I could talk to.  I realized that the only person I could talk to was my Heavenly Father.  My goodness, how I have learned to pray on my mission.  He's all I've got on my mission right now.  I've had many times where I've had to hit my knees, hard.  I've had some tear soaked prayers.  I've recieved some completely miraculous answers.  I've felt comforted.  I've felt peace.  I've felt forgiveness.  I've felt His love.  The only way I can do this, is through prayer.  I'm halfway there, and I am indeed, living on a prayer.  
I read a quote this week that I really liked, "Don't count the miles, count the 'I love you's' ".  I love you so much.  And I'm so grateful for the support and love you show me.  I miss you more than I can ever express.  But I love it here so much.  I'll talk to you soon.
Sister Carlee Beyer

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