So, I've experience my first Typhoon ever. President Carlos is a very vigilant man, and was aware of where we were and where the storm was every second of the weekend. He had the zone leaders come get Sister De Fiesta and I and bring us to Cauayan--closer to the mission home. We stayed with two other sisters in their cement boarding house type apartment. President Carlos had our entire mission on lockdown. We were not to leave our apartments until he gave us word. It was amazing that I did not feel threatened in any way by the storm. I honestly felt the protection of God, and honestly didn't realize how serious the storm was until we left the apartment. We lost our electricity of course, and wrote letters, ate dinner, bathed, prayed, and talked by candlelight. The rain was torrential and the palm trees were basically bent to the ground from the wind. Our closed doors rattled in the locks and rain water dripped in from the ceiling, but that was all really. We didn't experience a quarter of what most of the people here did.
When we left the apartment, we saw what really had transpired. Large trees were uprooted, some were just left completely leafeless, people's cauayan homes were floored, roofs were blown off, some aluminum roofs were tangled around powerlines, an entire Shell gas station had collapsed. But the minute I woke up, I heard people sweeping their floors with their walis-ting-tings and hammering the bends out of their roofs. They are such a resiliant people. When we got to our home in Naguilian, we saw that our front fence had been blown over, one window had broken, and our mattresses were a little wet, but besides that, we were blessed to have everything else remain in good condition. I feel like our home is very safe. (I will try to send you a picture soon.) We have an elevated house, all made of pure cement and brick, the windows are barred, and we have about five locks on every door (even the door to our room). We have a cell phone also. As sisters, we are very well taken care of.
We went right out the day we got back to our area, to help members and others clean. Mostly everyone refused our help (they are shy), but we were persistent and managed to walis-ting-ting some leaves from two people's entry ways and street. We also went and cleaned all of the water from our little-house-on-the-praire meeting house. :) The counselor in the branch presidency was there, and he cut open a young Buko (coconut) for us to drink from and eat. It was unlike any coconut I have ever tasted. The milk inside was like water, and the flesh was jelly-like--so good.
We have been without electricity and water since the storm, and we hear that that will be the case in Naguilian until December. Adventures! (That's why I couldn't email you last week. We went out to the emailing cafe, but there is no electricity in the whole city. We are in Cauayan right now, thats how I am able to email you now.) President has told us not to stay out past 6pm every night, because thats when it gets dark. And it gives us just enough daylight to find our candles in our house and light them before it is completely dark. We also dont have a refrigerator to use obviously, without the electricity, so finding food to eat has been somewhat difficult--veggies and meat spoil fast and we've resorted to eating lots of canned food and ketchup and fruit. Sister De Fiesta treat ourselves to an occasional pan de coco (a type of sweet bread here sooooooo gooooooooooooooooooooood) and a nightly watermelon feast. Watermelon is our "happy food," says Sister De Fiesta.
We've had some great teaching experiences. Sister De Fiesta and I are working hard to FIND people to teach. Most people will let us come into their homes and share a message about the gospel, because they are so nice. But its hard to get them to see the importance of reading a pamphlet for themselves or praying about our message for themselves or coming to church. We are teaching somewhere around 11 investigators--none yet progressing. We do have two progressing investigators--Sister Maryann and Brother Jerry. (Everyone calls everyone brother and sister here and in my first few days it was so hard for me to tell who was a member and who wasnt.) They are waiting on their marriage papers to come through before they can be baptized--it will take about 10 days. We are excited for them; they are really cute and every time we see them, they seem happier and happier.
We are also teaching a woman named Shela. Her husband is a less active member of the church, but she came to church our first Sunday here with her two children. We stopped by her house the next week to help her with laundry (She had SO much and is pregnant and was squatting to wash her clothes by hand...what a diligent, hardworking mother. Something I hope to be one day, though hopefully not having to squat.). We've decided as a companionship to serve our members and investigators more. We've taught her the message of the restoration and the word of wisdom, and she came to church again this past Sunday. We pray hard for her to know for herself that the church is true. Her baptismal date is set for November 17th.
I of course have times where I doubt myself and feeling the Spirit, but God never ceases to encourage me every day. It's been so neat to see how He does it. Like, one time we were proselyting down Querino, and when we past a house, I saw a mother, a child, and a grandmother standing outside of their home. I thought to myself in the split second we passed, "I could see us teaching them." And we kept walking. Then Sister De Fiesta stopped, turned around, and walked right to those three women. We taught them the restoration. Another time I was selecting a hymn to sing for a family and I thought, "Love at Home? Nooo..." And I asked the member with us what hymn they would like to sing. He said, "274." Which is Love at Home. Just yesterday we were sitting with a part-member family and a man I had just met was leaving. He was older and was mounting his bicycle and said, "Sister Fort, how is your patience?" And I looked at him, puzzled kind of and said, "Ok lang.." and he said, "Love the Filipino people, and hopefully we will love you too." Huh. Alma 32:23 speaks truth. God listens to my prayers. And answers them so readiliy sometimes (through people) that it surprises me.
Mahirap ang buhay dito sa Naguilian, pero I am learning to rely on my God and to be patient with myself. I take so much comfort from Alma 32--line upon line. Little by little I will become the missionary God sees in me.
I have about 5 minutes, so I'll make this fast!
Any bug repellant would be lovely--lice, ant, spider, etc. I am getting tan. I can have tailored dresses made real cheap here--the clothes I brought are SO HOT. I need garments, but can probably order them through the mission office here. ARMENIA!?!?!?!?!?!?!!? I cannot believe it!!!!!! Victoria is going to be WONDERFUL. I love herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr so much. Tell her that. I wrote her last week but my letters are coming by snail mail now. Alainna wrote me--I enjoyed her letter very much. I love HER!! Also Jillian sent me some cool new gum flavors. Tell her I love her. I will write them as soon as I can. Tell Peter I pray for him, every night.
I love you so so much. I hope I didn't forget to answer any questions. I'm sure I did, but anyway. Know that I am safe and being smart and I'm happy and I appreciate and love you so much. I need your prayers always.
WITH SO MUCH LOVE forever and ever.