First thing first, I realize that last week I didn't mention much about the the typhoon that hit the Philippines. Lots of people have been asking and worrying, so I'll fill you in on what I know. The storm itself hit pretty far from where I'm so it didn't effect us here. But from what I hear it hit pretty hard down in Tacloban.
A little background about missions in the Philippines; when I got my mission call there were 17 missions in the Philippines. In the last year that number has gone up to 21 missions. Tacloban is the mission that was hit the hardest. It was hit so hard that they are now closing the mission for the next little while, because there are not really people there left to teach. The devastation was pretty bad, so most of the survivors have moved. All the missionaries are safe, but they are being reassigned to other missions. In our mission we have received 15 new missionaries, plus a senior couple, all of whom are coming from Tacloban.
I am safe and well, but continue to pray for those who are not.
The time has gone by sooooooo fast. I still feel like a new missionary, but hitting my year mark makes me realized how long I've really been here. It has caused me to reflect on some of the changes I've seen in myself and the things I've experienced. Here are some:
-People tell me I've look like I've lost weight, but I'm not so sure about that. I've maybe just lost the 5lbs that I gained at the MTC.
-Tan lines. My favorite tan lines are the ones of my feet. But besides that I'm not nearly as tan as I should be considering I'm spending every day of my life out in the Philippines
-I have some pretty sweet knee calluses on my knees from all the knelling prayers that we offer as missionaries every day of our lives.
-I can walk forever, carrying a heavy bag, rain or shine.
-I just taught my first ever squatting lesson. I didn't think I was capable of doing that because of my knee surgery, but I thought wrong, because I can totally do it!
-As a missionary I've experienced the full spectrum of emotions. I've been so happy, so depressed, so excited, so frustrated, so satisfied, and so many other things.
-I've experienced vicariously through others the many types of problems in life
-I've learned how to deal with different things.
-I've spend 24/7 with 5 different companions. They are all different, none of us are perfect, but I love them all. And I'm planning for us to be friends for the rest of our lives.
-I've met so many neat missionaries.
-Seeing qualities that I like in people. Realizing the qualities that I don't really like in people.
-The members who I have learned to love and serve.
-I've never known so many people in my life. I've learned to not be afraid to just talk to all the random people that I come in contact with
-I learned a whole new language. How neat is that! I've still got a lot to learn thought.
-I'm a much better teacher than I was before. I guess that kinda happens after you teach all day everyday.
-I've learned how to cook things that I didn't even know existed before. I'm excited to come home and cook for all y'all.
-I've actually learned about a billion other neat things that can't even be included.
Spiritually (This is the most significant)
-My testimony has grown stronger
-I have a greater appreciation for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, of my family and of life in general.
-I've learned to pray more sincerely and I'm closer to my Father in Heaven than ever before
-In ways that I cannot even describe, my life has been changed forever.
Besides passing my one year mark last week, I also passed a different anniversary. November 15 marked ten years since I received my Patriarchal blessing. I am so grateful for that blessing, and the way it gives me direction for my specific problems even here on my mission. Something significant about my blessing, is that after I received it as a 13 year old girl, it was at that point in my life I realized I needed to be reading my scriptures everyday. For the past ten years I can count on my fingers how many days I've gone without reading the scriptures. My scripture study habit has made a huge impact on my life. If someone was to ask for my advice for preparing for a mission, I would tell them to develop a scripture study habit. Not only will it prepare you for the hours you spend each day as a missionary studying. But it will give you more power as you bear your testimony and teach truths. It will be a resource for you to draw from as you face the challenges in life. Missionary or not, I plead with all of you to read the word of God every day. It will change you life!
I want to tell you a little bit about my best friend of a companion. Sister de Guzman. One of the things I love about her, is what we do every night before we go to bed. We pray together as a companionship. Then after we've turned the lights out and said our personal prayers, we tell each other we love each other. Then we usually talk for a little bit just about whatever. Sometimes it results in me throwing my pillow at her. Every night I fall asleep as a happy missionary. I love Sister de Guzman!!
Sister "6 months left is actually a really long time" Curtis
2-Me and Sister de Guzman in a trike. I had to use a lot of hairspray to get my hair to stay up like that. Just kidding. It was really windy. And hairspray is way to expensive here.
4- The other Sister Training Leader. Love her!