Monday, August 1, 2011

TUGUEGARAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Dear momma, Pop, family and friends,
After saying goodbye to some of my favorite people in Solano—the Respicio’s, the Go’s, the Gutierrez’s, the Capalungans, the Pacua’s, the Peralta’s, the Augustine’s, the list goes on—Sister Roncal and I lugged my 2, 70+ pound bags to Cauayan City for transfer day. Sister Roncal cried during the meeting when President Carlos played a slideshow with the song, “You’re not alone.” I put my arm around her, and she smiled at me. I think she will do well with her new companion. She has a fresh start and new outlook, and new challenges to keep her mind off of things. Heavenly Father’s hand is in the transfer. Not just Presidents.
I have been transferred to Tuguegarao, Ward 1—or from what I’ve heard it called, “The Promised Land”? I thought Solano was the promised land, but apparently there are more than one Promised lands in Cauayan Mission.
My new companion, Sister Adino, and I, had lunch at Chowking, then rolled my bags to the bus stop. We got help from the elders. The wheel of one of my bags broke, and one of the Samoan elders carried it above his head. We rode the 2 and a half hour bus ride north from Cauayan—we passed through my first area, Naguilian, and I didn’t let myself fall asleep, so I could experience a rush of memories and good feelings pass through me from just seeing my old stomping grounds.
When we got to Tuguegarao, I didn’t see one of my bags. My black bag with all of my clothes inside—even garments, make-up, and all of my keepsake items that members and investigators have given me—was missing. We called zone leaders, district leaders, bus stations, then the AP’s. Still no sign, but they all promised they would look for me. Luckily I had a bag of dirty garments with me, and all of my journals. I didn’t panic and people were shocked that I could still smile. Hah. I just thought…well, many missionaries in Joseph Smith’s time went out to serve without shoes or coats or pants even, so I’m at least better off than they are. I knew I could make do without my things. I wanted the bracelet Sister Gutierrez gave to me and my make up more than anything. I prayed that Heavenly Father would teach me what I needed to learn from this little trial.
We went to our house and I unpacked my one bag in about 2 seconds. Our apartment is a mansion basically, off the main road. It is treated as a duplex though. Another family lives in the second half. It’s up and down and white tile runs all throughout. We sleep on the top floor where there is a balcony and long white curtains hang from where the doors are. Our windows and doors are always open to let air breeze through. It’s hot here, but it’s been cloudy since I’ve arrived, which is a lovely blessing. Our apartment is shared by four sisters, me included—Sister Sajol (old companion of Sis. De Fiesta), Sister Dhekao (from India and SO CUTE and sweet…she shares her crazy snacks with us that her parents sent to her), and Sister Adino and I. They are all so close from the last two cycles they've been together, but I am slowly inching my way into the cold waters, looking for ways to serve them and become a member of the family they've created. I've told them all about my family. <3
We went to a dinner appointment that night at a member’s home, and she lent me clean garments and something to sleep in.
Sister Sajol has a guitar and I played "love at home" at one of their baptisms, while they all sang along.
The next morning, we were called by the APs saying my bag was found in Tumuini, and they were on their way to deliver it to me. Yayyy. Sister Carlos texted and asked, "How does it feel to have clean garments?" I responded and told her it felt wonderful, etc. She responded, "We think this was a tender mercy for a very special sister missionary." Sweet.
Sister Adino is beautiful. I admire her so much already. She is only 2 cycles into the mission, and I am her “follow up trainer,” but honestly, I am learning much more from her than she could from me. Her work ethic and love and seriousness in which she takes the work reminds me of my sweet trainer, Sister De Fiesta. She teaches with such simplicity and gentleness, but is bold and inspired. I see my weaknesses, which is such a blessing. And I take strength from Ether 12:27. I think here, with my beautiful new companion, I will be able to make those weaknesses strengths. She wears pencil skirts, button-down shirts with baby doll sleeves, and pearl earrings. She reminds me of cute 1950’s actresses.
Our area runs along one street, but it is congested with homes that are so colorful. People basically live on top of each other. They don’t only use tricycles here to get around, but horse drawn carriages that cost just as much. It will take me a little while to get the area down…I’m turned around easily here.
We have dinner appointments every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We have lunch appointments every Tuesday and Sunday. The food is delicious here. I had nilaga with caribou meat yesterday—I think it’s my new favorite.
I gave a talk on Sunday about missionary work of course and shared the scriptures from John 21:15-17. If we love him, we will feed His sheep. I also shared about Laman and Lemuel and Nephi, how whatever the Lord commands us to do, he will give us power and strength to do it. The members support the missionaries so well here. We had combined priesthood and relief society and Bishop spoke about the importance of member missionaries and how a member prepares a referral for the missionaries. He is an RM, fairly young, and has a beautiful family.
We had so many people willing to work with us yesterday, that next week, we will be going on splits with the members.
We have 5 people we are preparing for baptism. They are all referrals from members and have strong foundations to be built on.
I am excited to be here in Tuguegarao. I am excited to develop a greater love for the members, our investigators, and my companion, and to fill this cycle with brand new memories that I will enjoy the rest of my life.
I love you momma. I hope things are going well. I love you my sweet family and friends. Tell Alainna Rosebud I love her and miss her. I can't wait to see her and squeeze her little cheeks--both kinds of cheeks. ;) I pray for you all always always.
Sister Fort
I haven't received any packages yet...

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